Skip to main content

Full text of "The pirate"

See other formats

*•- «('«M 


r TOt-' *AVa. 


snoni^M 5 ? char ^"S this material is re- 
sponsible for its return to the library from 
which , t withdrawn on or be Y V re fro £ 

latest Date stamped below. 

Theft „,„«!„,.„. mi „„„„„„; 

'or disciplinary action „„j oooKs are reasons 

the University "** '""" in *-"•— 'rem 

la renew call Telephone Center, 333-8400 


1 2 1984 

L161— O-1096 

>? X.-^u rJ&S^^^iw^ 


1 I B R.ARY 




The person charging this material is re- 
sponsible for its return on or before the 
Latest Date stamped below. 

Theft, mutilation, and underlining of books 
are reasons for disciplinary action and may 
result in dismissal from the University. 

University of Illinois Library 

L161— O-1096 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 

j in: 

P I II A T E. 


But doth suffer a sea-change* 

VOL. I. 






Printed by James BaUanfyne and Co. Edinburgh. 


The purpose of the following Narrative 
is to give a detailed and accurate account 
of certain remarkable incidents which took 
place in the Orkney Islands, concerning 
which, the more imperfect traditions and 
mutilated records of the country only tell 
us the following erroneous particulars : — 

In the month of January 1724-5, a ves- 
sel, called the Revenge, bearing twenty large 
guns, and six smaller, commanded by John 

VOL. I. 


Gow, or Goffe, or Smith, came to the 
Orkney Islands, and was discovered to be a 
pirate, by various acts of insolence and vil- 
lainy committed by the crew. These were 
for some time submitted to, the inhabitants 
of these remote islands not possessing arms 
nor means of resistance ; and so bold was the 
Captain of these banditti, that he not only 
came ashore, and gave dancing parties in the 
village of Stromness,but, before his real cha- 
racter was discovered, engaged the affections 
and received the troth-plight of a young la- 
dy, possessed of some property. A patriotic 
individual, James Fea, younger of Cles- 
tron, formed the plan of securing the buc- 
caneer, which he effected by a mixture of 
courage and address, in consequence chiefly 
of Gow's vessel having gone on shore near 
the harbour of Calfsound, on the Island of 


Eda, not far distant from a house then in- 
habited by Mr Fea. In the various strata- 
gems by which Mr Fea contrived finally, at 
the peril of his life, they being well armed 
and desperate, to make the whole pirates his 
prisoners, he was much aided by Mr James 
Laixg, the grandfather of the late Mal- 
colm Latxg, Esq. the acute and ingeni- 
ous historian of Scotland during the 17th 

Gow, and others of his crew, suffered by 
sentence of the High Court of Admiralty, 
the punishment their crimes had long de- 
served. He conducted himself with great 
audacity when before the Court ; and, 
from an account of the matter, by an eye- 
witness, seems to have been subjected to some 
unusual severities, in order to compel him to 
plead. The words are these : " John Gow 


would not plead, for which he was brought 
to the bar, and the Judge ordered that his 
thumbs should be squeezed by two men, 
with a whip-cord, till it did break ; and then 
it should be doubled, till it did again break, 
and then laid threefold, and that the execu- 
tioners should pull with their whole strength ; 
which sentence Gow endured with a great 
deal of boldness." The next morning, (27th 
May, 1725,) when he had seen the prepa- 
rations for pressing him to death, his cou- 
rage gave way, and he told the Marshal of 
Court, that he would not have given so much 
trouble, had he been assured of not being 
hanged in chains. He was then tried, con- 
demned, and executed, with others of his 

It is said, that the lady whose affections 
Gow had engaged, went up to London to 


see him before his death, and that, arriving 
too late, she had the courage to request a 
sight of his dead body ; and then touching 
the hand of the corpse, she formally resu- 
med the troth-plight which she had bestow- 
ed. Without going through this ceremony* 
she could not, according to the superstition 
of the country, have escaped a visit from the 
ghost of her departed lover, in the event of 
her bestowing upon any living suitor, the 
faith which she had plighted to the dead. 
This part of the legend may serve as a cu- 
rious commentary on the beautiful tale of 
the fine Scottish ballad, which begins, 

" There came a ghost to Margaret's door," &c 

The common account of this incident far- 
ther bears, that Mr Fea, the spirited indi- 


vidual, by whose exertions Gow's career of 
iniquity was cut short, was so far from re- 
ceiving any reward from Government, that 
he could not obtain even countenance enough 
to protect him against a variety of sham suits, 
raised against him by Newgate solicitors, 
who acted in the name of Gow, and others 
of the pirate crew; and the various expences, 
vexatious prosecutions, and other legal con- 
sequences, in which his gallantry involved 
him, utterly ruined his fortune and his fa- 
mily ; making his memory a notable exam- 
ple to all who shall in future take pirates 
on their own authority. 

It is to be supposed, for the honour of 
George the First's government, that the 
last circumstance, as well as the dates, and 
other particulars of the commonly received 


story, are inaccurate, since they will be found 
totally irreconcileable with the following ve- 
racious narrative, compiled from materials 
to which he himself alone has had access, 

The Author of Waverley. 

1st November, 1821. 


VOL. I. 



The storm had ceased its wintry roar, 

Hoarse dash the billows of the sea ; 
But who on Thule's desert shore, 

Cries, Have I burn'd my harp for thee ? 


That long, narrow, and irregular island, usu- 
ally called the Main-Land of Zetland, because it 
is by far the largest of that Archipelago, termi- 
nates, as is well known to the mariners who 
navigate the stormy seas which surround the 
Thule of the ancients, in a cliff of tremendous 
height, entitled Sumburgh-Head, which presents 
its bare scalp and naked sides to the weight of a 
tremendous surge, and forms the extreme point 
of the isle to the south-east. This lofty promon- 


tory is constantly exposed to the current of a 
strong and furious tide, which setting in betwixt 
the Orkney and Zetland Islands, and running 
with force only inferior to that of the Pentland 
Frith, takes its name from the headland we have 
mentioned, and is called the Roost of Sumburgh ; 
roost being the phrase assigned in these isles to 
currents of this description. 

On the land side, the promontory is covered 
with short grass, and slopes steeply down to a 
little isthmus, upon which the sea has encroached 
in creeks, which, advancing from either side of the 
island, gradually work their way forward, and 
seem as if in a short time they would form a 
junction, and altogether insulate Sumburgh- 
Head, when what is now a cape, will become a 
lonely mountain islet, severed from the main- 
land, of which it is at present the terminating ex- 

Man, however, had in former days considered 
this as a remote or unlikely event ; for a Nor- 
wegian chief of other times, or, as other accounts 
said, and as the name of Jarlshof seemed to imply, 
an ancient Earl of the Orkneys had selected this 


neck of land as the place for establishing a man- 
sion-house. It has been long entirely deserted, 
and the vestiges can only be discerned with diffi- 
culty; for the loose sand, borne on the tempestuous 
gales of these stormy regions, has overblown, and 
almost buried the ruins of the buildings ; but in 
the end of the seventeenth century, a part of the 
Earl's mansion was still entire and inhabitable. It 
was a rude building of rough stone, with nothing 
about it to gratify the eye, or to excite the imagi- 
nation ; — a large old-fashioned house, with a very 
steep roof, covered with flags composed of grey 
sandstone, would perhaps convey the best idea of 
the place to a modern reader. The windows were 
few, were very small in size, and were distributed 
up and down the building with utter contempt of 
regularity. Against the main building had rest- 
ed, in former times, certain smaller copartments 
of the mansion-house, containing offices, or sub- 
ordinate apartments, necessary for the accommo- 
dation of the Earl's retainers and menials. But 
these had become ruinous ; and the rafters had 
been taken down for fire- wood, or for other pur- 
poses ; the walls had given way in many places ; 
and, to complete the devastation, the sand had 


already drifted amongst the ruins, and filled up 
what had been once the chambers they contain- 
ed, to the depth of two or three feet. 

Amid this desolation, the inhabitants of Jarls- 
hof had contrived, by constant labour and at- 
tention, to keep in order a few roods of land, 
which had been inclosed as a garden, and which, 
sheltered by the walls of the house itself, from 
the relentless sea-blast, produced such vegetables 
as the climate could bring forth, or rather as the 
sea-gale would permit to grow ; for these islands 
experience even less of the rigour of cold than is 
encountered on the mainland of Scotland ; but, 
unsheltered by a wall of some sort or other, it is 
scarce possible to raise even the most ordinary 
culinary vegetables ; and as for shrubs or trees, 
they are entirely out of the question, such is the 
force of the sweeping sea-blast. 

At a short distance from the mansion, and 
near to the sea-beach, just where the creek forms 
a sort of imperfect harbour, in which lay three or 
four fishing-boats, there were a few most wretch- 
ed cottages for the inhabitants and tenants of the 
township of Jarlshof, who held the whole district 
of the landlord upon such terms as were in those 


days usually granted to persons of this descrip- 
tion, and which, of course, were hard enough. 
The landlord himself resided upon an estate 
which he possessed in a more eligible situation, 
in a different part of the island, and seldom visit- 
ed his possessions at Sumburgh-Head. He was 
an honest, plain Zetland gentleman, somewhat 
passionate, the necessary result of being surround- 
ed by dependents ; and somewhat over-convivial 
in his habits, the consequence, perhaps, of having 
too much time at his disposal ; but frank-tem- 
pered, and generous to his people, and kind and 
hospitable to strangers. He was descended also 
of an old and noble Norwegian family ; a circum- 
stance which rendered him dearer to the lower 
orders, most of whom are of the same race ; while 
the lairds, or proprietors, are generally of Scot- 
tish extraction, who, at this early period, were 
even still considered as strangers and intruders. 
Magnus Troil, who deduced his descent from the 
very Earl who was supposed to have founded 
Jarlshof, was peculiarly of this opinion. 

The present inhabitants of Jarlshof had expe- 
rienced, on several occasions, the kindness and 
good will of the proprietor of the territory. When 


Mr Mertoun, such was the name of the present 
inhabitant of the old mansion, first arrived in Zet- 
land, some years before the story commences, he 
had received at the house of Mr Troil that warm 
and cordial hospitality for which the islands are 
distinguished. No one asked him whence he came, 
where he was going, what was his purpose in vi- 
siting so remote a corner of the empire, or what 
was likely to be the term of his stay. He arrived 
a perfect stranger, yet was instantly overpowered 
by a succession of invitations ; and in each house 
which he visited, he found a home as long as he 
chose to accept it, and lived as one of the family, 
unnoticed and unnoticing, until he thought pro- 
per to remove to some other dwelling. This ap- 
parent indifference to the rank, character, and 
qualities of their guest, did not arise from apathy 
on the part of his kind hosts, for the islanders had 
their full share of natural curiosity ; but their de- 
licacy deemed it would be an infringement upon 
the laws of hospitality, to ask questions which Jieir 
guest might have found it difficult or unpleasing 
to answer ; and instead of endeavouring, as is 
usual in other countries v to wring out of Mr Mer- 
toun such communications as he might find it 

THE HttATE. 9 

agreeable to withhold, the considerate Zetlanders 
contented themselves with eagerly gathering up 
such scraps of information as could be collected 
in the course of conversation. 

But the rock in an Arabian desart is not more 
reluctant to afford water, than Mr Basil Mertoun 
was niggard in imparting his confidence, even in- 
cidentally ; and certainly the politeness of the 
gentry of Thule was never put to a more severe 
task than when they felt that good-breeding en- 
joined them to abstain from inquiring into the si- 
tuation of so mysterious a personage. 

All that was actually known of him was easily 
summed up. Mr Mertoun had come to Lerwick, 
then rising into some importance, but not yet ac- 
knowledged as the principal town of the island, 
in a Dutch vessel, accompanied only by his son, 
a handsome boy of about fourteen years old. His 
own age might exceed forty. The Dutch skip- 
per introduced him to some of the very good 
friends with whom he used to barter gin and gin- 
gerbread for little Zetland bullocks, smoked 
geese, and stockings of lambs 1 wool ; and al- 
though Meinheer could only say, that " Mein- 


heer Mertoun hab bay his bassage like one gen- 
tlemans, and hab given a Kreitz-dollar beside to 
the crew," this introduction served to establish 
the Dutchman^ passenger in a respectable circle 
of acquaintances, which gradually enlarged, as it 
appeared that the stranger was a man of consi- 
derable acquirements. 

This discovery was made as it were perforce ; 
for Mertoun was as unwilling to speak upon ge- 
neral subjects, as upon his own affairs. But he 
was sometimes led into discussions, which shew- 
ed, as it were in spite of himself, the scholar and 
the man of the world ; and, at other times, as if 
in requital of the hospitality which he experien- 
ced, he seemed to compel himself, against his fix- 
ed nature, to enter into the society of those around 
him, especially when it assumed the grave, me- 
lancholy, or satirical cast, which best suited the 
temper of his own mind. Upon such occasions, 
the Zetlanders were universally of opinion that 
he must have had an excellent education, neglect- 
ed only in one striking particular, namely, that Mr 
Mertoun scarce knew the stem of a ship from the 
stern ; and in the management of a boat, a cow 


could not be more ignorant. It seemed astonish- 
ing such gross ignorance of the most necessary 
art of life, (in the Zetland Isles at least,) should 
subsist along with his accomplishments in other 
respects ; but so it was. 

Unless called forth in the manner we have 
mentioned, the habits of Basil Mertoun were re- 
tired and gloomy. From loud mirth he instant- 
ly fled ; and even the moderated cheerfulness of 
a friendly party, had the invariable effect of 
throwing him into deeper dejection than even his 
usual demeanour indicated. 

Women are always particularly desirous of in- 
vestigating mystery, and of alleviating melan- 
choly, especially when these circumstances are 
united in a handsome man about the prime of 
life. It is possible, therefore, that amongst the 
fair-haired and blue-eyed daughters of Thule 
this mysterious and pensive stranger might have 
found some one to take upon herself the task of 
consolation, had he shewn any willingness to ac- 
cept such kindly offices ; but, far from doing so, 
he seemed even to shun the presence of the sex, 
to which in our distresses, whether of mind or 
body, we generally apply for pity and comfort. 


To these peculiarities Mr Mertoun added an- 
other, which was particularly disagreeable to his 
host and principal patron, Magnus Troil. This 
magnate of Zetland, descended by the father's 
side, as we have already said, from an ancient 
Norwegian family by the marriage of its repre- 
sentative with a Danish lady, held the devout 
opinion that a cup of Geneva or Nantz was spe- 
cific against all cares and afflictions whatsoever. 
These were remedies to which Mr Mertoun never 
applied ; his drink was water, and water alone, 
and no persuasion or entreaties could induce him 
to taste any stronger beverage than was afforded 
by the pure spring. Now this Magnus Troil 
could not tolerate ; it was a defiance to the an- 
cient northern laws of conviviality, which, for his 
own part, he had so rigidly observed, that al- 
though he was wont to assert that he had never 
in his life gone to bed drunk, (that is, in his 
own sense of the word,) it would have been im- 
possible to prove that he had ever resigned him- 
self to slumber in a state of actual and absolute 
sobriety. It may be therefore asked, what did 
this stranger bring into society to compensate 


the displeasure given by his austere and abstemi- 
ous habits ? He had, in the first place, that man- 
ner and self-importance which mark a person of 
some consequence ; and although it was conjec- 
tured that he could not be rich, yet it was cer- 
tainly known by his expenditure that neither was 
he absolutely poor. He had, besides, some pow- 
ers of conversation, when, as we have already 
hinted, he chose to exert them, and his misan- 
thropy or aversion to the business and intercourse 
of ordinary life, was often expressed in an anti- 
thetical manner, which passed for wit, when bet- 
ter was not to be had. Above all, Mr Mer- 
toun's secret seemed impenetrable, and his pre- 
sence had all the interest of a riddle, which men 
love to read over and over, because they cannot 
find out the meaning of it. 

Notwithstanding these recommendations, Mer- 
toun differed in so many material points from his 
host, that after he had been for some time a guest 
at his principal residence, Magnus Troil was 
agreeably surprised when, one evening after they 
had sate two hours in absolute silence, drinking 
brandy and water, — that is, Magnus drinking the 
alcohol, and Mertoun the element, — the guest ask- 


ed his host's permission to occupy, as his tenant, 
this deserted mansion of Jarslhof, at the extre- 
mity of the territory called Dunrossness, and si- 
tuated just beneath Sumburgh-Head. " I shall 
be handsomely rid of him,"" quoth Magnus to 
himself, " and his kill-joy visage will never again 
stop the bottle in its round. His departure will 
ruin me in lemons, however, for his mere look 
was quite sufficient to sour a whole ocean of 
punch.' 1 

Yet the kind-hearted Zetlander generously 
and disinterestedly remonstrated with Mr Mer- 
toun on the solitude and inconveniences to which 
he was about to subject himself. " There were 
scarce," he said, " even the most necessary articles 
of furniture in the old house — there was no so- 
ciety within many miles — for provisions, the prin- 
cipal article of food would be sour sillocks, and 
his only company gulls and gannets." 

" My good friend," replied Mertoun, " if you 
could have named a circumstance which would 
render the residence more eligible to me than any 
other, it is that there would be neither human 
luxury nor human society near the place of my re- 
treat; a shelter from the weather for my own head, 


and for the boy's, is all I seek for ; so name your 
rent, Mr Troil, and let me be your tenant at 

" Rent ?" answered the Zetlander ; " why, no 
great rent for an old house which no one has lived 
in since my mother's time, God rest her ; and as 
for shelter, the old walls are thick enough, and 
will bear many a bang yet. But, Heaven love 
you, Mr Mertoun, think what you are purposing. 
For one of us to live at Jarlshof, were a wild 
scheme enough ; but you, who are from another 
country, whether English, Scotch, or Irish, no 
one can tell" 

" Nor does it greatly matter," said Mertoun, 
somewhat abruptly. 

" Not a herring's scale," answered the Laird ; 
" only that I like you the better for being no 
Scot, as I trust you are not one. Hither they 
have come like the clack-geese — every chamber- 
lain has brought over a flock of his own name, 
and his own hatching, for what I know, and 
here they roost for ever — catch them returning 
to their own barren Highlands or Lowlands, 
when they have tasted our Zetland beef, and seen 
our bonny voes and lochs. No, sir," (here Mag- 


nus proceeded with great animation, sipping from 
time to time the half-diluted spirit, which at the 
same time animated his resentment against the 
intruders, and enabled him to endure the morti- 
fying reflections which it suggested,) — " No, sir, 
the ancient days and the genuine manners of 
these Islands are no more ; for our ancient pos- 
sessors, — our Patersons, our Teas, our Schlag- 
brenners, our Yhiorbiorns, have given place to 
GifFords, Scotts, Mouats, men whose names be- 
speak them or their ancestors strangers to the soil 
which we the Troils have inhabited long before 
the days of Turf-Einar, who first taught these 
Isles the mystery of burning peat for fuel, and 
who has been handed down to a grateful poste- 
rity by a name which records the discovery. 1 ' 

This was a subject upon which the potentate 
of Jarlshof was usually very diffuse, and Mer- 
toun saw him enter upon it with pleasure, because 
he knew he would not be called upon to contri- 
bute any aid to the conversation, and might there- 
fore indulge his own saturnine humour while the 
Norwegian Zetlander declaimed on the change of 
times and inhabitants. But just as Magnus had 
arrived at the melancholy conclusion, " how pro- 


bable it was, that in another century scarce a merle 
— scarce even an ure of land, would be in posses- 
sion of the Norse inhabitants, the true Udailers* 
of Zetland," he recollected the circumstances of 
his guest, and stopped suddenly short. M I do 
not say all this," he added, interrupting himself, 
" as if I were unwilling that you should settle on 
my estate, Mr Mertoun — but for Jarlshof — the 
place is a wild one — Come from where you will, 
I warrant you will say, like other travellers, you 
came from a better climate than ours, for so say 
you all. And yet you think of a retreat which 
the very natives run away from. Will you not 
take your glass?" — (This was to be considered as 
interjectional,) — " Then here's to you." 

" My good sir," answered Mertoun, " I am 
indifferent to climate ; if there is but air enough 
to fill my lungs, I care not if it be the breath of 
Arabia or of Lapland." 

* The Udailers are the allodial possessors of Zetland, 
who hold their possessions under the old Norwegian law, 
instead of the feudal tenures introduced among them from 

vol. I. v, 


" Air enough you may have," answered Mag- 
nus, "no lack of that — somewhat damp, strangers 
allege it to be, but we know a corrective for that— 
Here's to you, Mr Mertoun — you must learn to 
do so, and to smoke a pipe ; and then, as you 
say, you will find the air of Zetland equal to that 
of Arabia. But have you seen Jarlshof ?" 

The stranger intimated he had not. 

rt Then," replied Magnus, " you have rto idea 
of your undertaking. If you think it a comfort- 
able roadstead like this, with the house situated 
on the side of an inland voe, * that brings the 
herrings up to your door, you are mistaken, my 
heart. At Jarlshof you will see nought but the 
wild waves tumbling on the bare rocks, and the 
Roost of Sumburgh running at the rate of fifteen 
knots an hour. 1 ' 

" I shall see nothing at least of the current of 
human passions, 1 ' replied Mertoun. 

" You will hear nothing but the clanging and 
screaming of scarfs, sheer-waters, and sea-gulls, 
from day-break till sun- set." 

* Salt-water lake. 


" I will compound, my friend," replied the 
stranger, " so that I do not hear the chattering 
of women's tongues." 

" Ah," said the Norman, " that is because you 
hear just now my little Minna and Brenda sing- 
ing in the garden with your Mordaunt Now, I 
would rather listen to their little voices, than the 
sky-lark which I once heard in Caithness, or the 
nightingale that I have read of. — What will the 
girls do for want of their playmate Mordaunt ?" 

" They will shift for themselves," answered 
Mertoun ; " younger or elder they will find play- 
mates or dupes ; but the question is, Mr Troil, 
will you let to me, as your tenant, this old man- 
sion" of Jarlshof ?" 

M Gladly, since you make it your option to 
live in a spot so desolate." 

u And for the rent ?" continued Mertoun. 

" The rent ?" replied Magnus ; " hum — why, 
you must have the bit of plantie cruive, which 
they once called a garden, and a right in the scat- 
Jiold, and a sixpenny merk of land, that the te- 
nants may fish for you ;— eight lispunds of but- 

20 THE PlitATE. 

ter, and eight shillings sterling yearly, is not too 
much ?" 

Mr Mertoun agreed to terms so moderate, 
and from thenceforward resided chiefly at the so- 
litary mansion which we have described in the 
beginning of this chapter, conforming not only 
without complaint, but, as it seemed, with a sul- 
len pleasure, to all the privations which so wild 
and desolate a situation necessarily imposed on 
its inhabitant. 



'Tis not alone the scene — the man, Anselmo, 
The man finds sympathies in these wild wastes, 
And roughly tumbling seas, which fairer views 
And smoother waves deny him. 

Ancient Dranta. 

The few* inhabitants of the township of Jarls- 
hof had at first heard with alarm that a person 
of rank superior to their own, was come to reside 
in the ruinous tenement which they still called 
the castle. In those days, (for the present times 
are greatly altered for the better,) the presence of 
a superior, in such a situation, was almost certain 
to be attended with additional burthens and ex- 
actions, for which, under one pretext or another, 
feudal customs furnished a thousand apologies. 
By each of these, a part of the tenants'* hard 
won and precarious profits was diverted for the 
use of their powerful neighbour and superior, 


the tacksman as he was called. But the sub-te- 
nants speedily found that no oppression of this 
kind was to be apprehended at the hands of Ba- 
sil Mertoun. His own means, whether large 
or small, were at least fully adequate to his ex- 
pences, which, so far as regarded his habits of 
life, were of the most frugal description. The 
luxuries of a few books, and some philosophical 
instruments, with which he was supplied from 
London as occasion offered, seemed to indicate a 
degree of wealth unusual in these islands ; but, 
on the other hand, the table and the accommo- 
dations at Jarlshof, did not exceed what was 
maintained by a Zetland proprietor of the most 
inferior description. 

The tenants of the hamlet troubled themselves 
very little about the quality of their superior, as 
soon as they found that their situation was ra- 
ther to be mended than rendered worse by his 
presence ; and once relieved from the apprehen- 
sion of his tyrannizing over them, they laid their 
heads together to make the most of him by various 
petty tricks of overcharge and extortion, which for 
a while the stranger submitted to with the most 


philosophic indifference. An incident, however, 
occurred, which put his character in a new light, 
and effectually checked all future efforts at ex- 
travagant imposition. 

A dispute arose in the kitchen of the Castle 
betwixt an old governante, who acted as house- 
keeper to Mr Mertoun, and Sweyn Erickson, as 
good a Zetlander as ever rowed a boat to the 
haqf fishing ; # which dispute, as is usual in such 
cases, was maintained with such increasing heat 
and vociferation as to reach the ears of the mas- 
ter, (as he was called,) who, secluded in a solita- 
ry turret, was deeply employed in examining the 
contents of a new package of books from London, 
which, after long expectation, had found its way 
to Hull, from thence by a whaling vessel to Ler- 
wick, and so to Jarlshof. With more than the 
usual thrill of indignation which indolent people 
always feel when roused into action on some un- 
pleasant occasion, Mertoun descended to the scene 
of contest, and so suddenly, peremptorily, and 
strictly inquired into the cause of dispute, that 

* t. e. The deep-sea fishing, in distinction to that which 
is practised along shore, 


the parties, notwithstanding every evasion which 
they attempted, became unable to disguise from 
him that their difference respected the several in- 
terests to which the honest governante, and no 
less honest fisherman, were respectively entitled, 
in an overcharge of about one hundred per cent, 
on a bargain of rock-cod, purchased by the for- 
mer from the latter, for the use of the family at 

When this was fairly ascertained and confessed, 
Mr Mertoun stood looking upon the culprits 
with eyes in which the utmost scorn seemed to 
contend with awakening passion. " Hark you, 
ye old hag," said he at length to the housekeeper, 
" avoid my house this instant ; and know that I 
dismiss you, not for being a liar, a thief, and an 
ungrateful quean, for these are qualities as pro- 
per to you as your name of woman, but for daring, 
in my house, to scold above your breath. — And 
for you, you rascal, who suppose you may cheat 
a stranger as you would jlinch* a whale, know 
that I am well acquainted with the rights which, 

* The operation of slicing the blubber from the bones 
of the whale,, is called, technically , jlinching. 


by delegation from your master, Magnus Troil, 
I can exercise over you, if I will. Provoke me 
to a certain pitch, and you shall learn, to your 
cost, I can break your rest as easily as you can 
interrupt my leisure. I know the meaning of 
scat, and wattle, and hawkhen, and liagalef, and 
every other exaction by which your lords, in an- 
cient and modern days, have wrung your withers ; 
nor is there one of you that shall not rue the day 
that you could not be content with robbing me of 
my money, but must also break in on my leisure 
with your atrocious northern clamour, that rivals 
in discord the screaming of a flight of Arctic gulls" 

Nothing better occurred to Sweyn, in answer 
to this objurgation, than the preferring a humble 
request that his honour would be pleased to keep 
the cod-fish without payment, and say no more 
about the matter ; but by this time Mr Mertoun 
had worked up his passions into an ungovernable 
rage, and with one hand he threw the money at the 
fisherman's head, while with the other he pelted 
him out of the apartment with his own fish. 

There was so much of appalling and tyrannic 
fury in the stranger's manner on this occasion, 


that Sweyn neither stopped to collect the money 
nor take back his commodity, but fled at a pre- 
cipitate rate to the small hamlet, to tell his com- 
rades that if they provoked Master Mertoun any 
further, he would turn an absolute Pate Stuart* 
on their hand, and head and hang without either 
judgment or mercy. 

Hither also came the discarded housekeeper, to 
consult with her neighbours and kindred, (for 
she also was a native of the village,) what she 
should do to regain the desirable situation from 
which she had been so suddenly expelled. The 
old Rauzellaar of the village, who had the voice 
most potential in the deliberations of the town- 
ship, after hearing what had happened, pronoun- 
ced that Sweyn Erickson had gone too far in 
raising the market upon Mr Mertoun ; and that 
whatever pretext the tacksman might assume 
for thus giving way to his anger, the real grie- 
vance must have been the charging the rock cod- 

* Meaning, probably, Patrick Stuart, Earl of Orkney, 
executed for tyranny and oppression practised on the in- 
habitants of these remote islands in the beginning of the 
seventeenth century. 

- THE PI KATE. 27 

fish at a penny instead of a halfpenny a-piece ; 
he therefore exhorted all the community never to 
raise their exactions in future beyond the pro- 
portion of threepence upon the shilling, at which 
rate their master at the Castle could not reason- 
ably be expected to grumble, since, as he was 
disposed to do them no harm, it was reasonable 
to think that, in a moderate way, he had no ob- 
jection to do them good. " And three upon 
twelve," said the experienced Rauzellaar, " is a 
decent and moderate profit, and will bring with 
it God's blessing and Saint Ronald's." 

Proceeding upon the tari^ thus judiciously re- 
commended to them, the inhabitants of Jarlshof 
cheated Mertoun in future only to the moderate 
extent of twenty-five per cent. ; a rate to which 
all nabobs, army-contractors, speculators in the 
funds, and others, whom recent and rapid success 
has enabled to settle in the country upon a great 
scale, ought to submit, as very reasonable treat- 
ment at the hand of their rustic neighbours. 
Mertoun at least seemed of that opinion, for he 
gave himself no further trouble on the subject of 
his household expences. 



The conscript fathers of Jarlshof, having set- 
tled their own matters, took next under their 
consideration the case of Swertha, the banished 
matron who had been expelled from the Castle, 
whom as an experienced and useful ally, they 
were highly desirous to restore to her office of 
housekeeper, should that be found possible. But 
as their wisdom here failed them, Swertha, in de- 
spair, had recourse to the good offices of Mor- 
daunt Mertoun, with whom she had acquired 
some favour by her knowledge in old Norwegian 
ballads, and dismal tales concerning the Trows 
or Drows, (the dwarfs of the Scalds) with whom 
superstitious eld had peopled many a lonely ca- 
vern and brown dale in Dunrossness, as in every 
other district of Zetland. " Swertha,"" said the 
youth, " I can do but little for you, but you may 
do something for yourself. My father's passion 
resembles the fury of those ancient champions 
you sing songs about." 

" Ay, ay, fish of my heart," replied the old 
woman, with a pathetic whine ; " the Berserkars 
were champions who lived before the blessed days 
of Saint Olave, and who used to run like mad- 


men on swords, and spears, and harpoons, and 
muskets, and snap them all into pieces as a fin- 
ner would go through a herring-net, and then, 
when the fury went off, were as weak and un- 
stable as water." 

u That's the very thing, Swertha," said Mor- 
daunt. " Now, my father never likes to think of 
his passion after it is over, and is so much of a 
Berserkar, that, let him be desperate as he will 
to-day, he will not care aboutit to-morrow. There- 
fore, he has not filled up your place in the house- 
hold at the Castle, and not a mouthful of warm 
food has been dressed there since you went away, 
and not a morsel of bread baked, but we have li- 
ved just upon whatever cold thing came to hand. 
Now, Swertha, I will be your warrant, that if 
you go boldly up to the Castle, and enter upon 
the discharge of your duties as usual, you will 
never hear a single word from him. 1 ' 

Swertha hesitated at first to obey this bold 
counsel. She said, " to her thinking, Mr Mer- 
toun, when he was angry, looked more like a 
fiend than any Berserkar of them all ; that the 
fire flashed from his eves, and the foam flew from 


his lips ; and that it would be a plain tempting 
of Providence to put herself again in such a ven- 

But, on the encouragement which she received 
from the son, she determined at length once more 
to face the parent ; and, dressing herself in her 
ordinary household attire, for so Mordaunt par- 
ticularly recommended, she slipped into the Castle, 
and presently resuming the various and numerous 
occupations which devolved on her, seemed as 
deeply engaged in household cares as if she had 
never been out of office. 

The first day of her return to her duty, Swer- 
tha made no appearance in presence of her mas- 
ter, but trusted that, after his three days'* diet on 
cold meat, a hot dish, dressed with the best of 
her simple skill, might introduce her favourably 
to his recollection. When Mordaunt had report- 
ed that his father had taken no notice of this 
change of diet, and when she herself observed 
that, in passing and repassing him occasionally, 
tier appearance produced no effect upon her sin- 
gular master, she began to imagine that the whole 
affair had escaped Mr Mertoun's memory. Nei- 


ther was she convinced of the contrary until one 
day, when happening somewhat to elevate her 
tone in a dispute with the other maid-servant, 
her master, who at that time passed the place of 
contest, eyed her with a strong glance, and pro- 
nounced the single word, remember, in a tone 
which taught Swertha the government of her 
tongue for many weeks after. 

If Mertoun was whimsical in his mode of go- 
verning his household, he seemed no less so in 
his plan of educating his son. He shewed the 
youth but few symptoms of parental affection ; 
yet, in his ordinary state of mind, the improve- 
ment of Mordaunfs education seemed to be the 
utmost object of his life. He had both books and 
information sufficient to discharge the task of tu- 
tor in the ordinary branches of knowledge ; and 
in this capacity was regular, calm, and strict, not 
to say severe, in exacting from his pupil the at- 
tention necessary for his profiting. But in the 
perusal' of history, to which their attention was 
frequently turned, as well as in the study of 
classic authors, there often occurred facts or sen- 
timents which produced an instant effect upon 


MertourTs mind, and brought on him suddenly 
what Swertha, Sweyn, and even Mordaunt, came 
to distinguish by the name of his dark hour. He 
was aware, in the usual case, of its approach, and 
retreated to an inner apartment, into which he 
never permitted even Mordaunt to enter. Here 
he would abide in seclusion for days, and even 
weeks, only coming out at uncertain times, to 
take such food as they had taken care to leave 
within his reach, which he used in wonderfully 
small quantities. At other times, and especially 
during the winter solstice, when almost every 
person spends the time within doors in feasting 
and merriment, this unhappy man would wrap 
himself in a dark-coloured sea-cloak, and wander 
out along the stormy beach, or upon the desolate 
heath, indulging his own gloomy and wayward re- 
veries, under the inclement sky, the rather that 
he was then most sure to wander unencountered 
and unobserved. 

As Mordaunt grew older, he learned to note 
the particular signs which preceded these fits of 
gloomy despondency, and to direct such precau- 
tions as might insure his unfortunate parent from 


ill-timed interruption, (which had always the ef- 
fect of driving him to fury,) w r hile, on the con- 
trary, full provision was made for his subsist- 
ence. Mordaunt perceived, that at such periods 
the melancholy fit of his father was greatly pro- 
longed, if he chanced to present himself to his 
eyes while the dark hour was upon him. Out of 
respect, therefore, to his parent, as well as to in- 
dulge the love of active exercise and of amuse- 
ment natural to his period of life, Mordaunt 
used often altogether to absent himself from the 
mansion of Jarlshof, and even from the district, 
secure that his father, if the dark hour passed 
away in his absence, would be little disposed to 
enquire how his son had disposed of his leisure, 
so he was sure he had not watched his own weak 
moments ; that being the subject on which he en- 
tertained the utmost jealousy. 

At such times, therefore, all the sources of 
amusement which the country afforded, were open 
to the younger Mertoun, who, in these intervals 
of his education, had an opportunity to give full 
scope to the energies of a bold, active, and da- 

vol. i. c 


ring character. He was often engaged with the 
youth of the hamlet in those desperate sports, 
to which the " dreadful trade of the samphire 
gatherer" is like a walk upon level ground — often 
joined those midnight excursions upon the face of 
the giddy cliffs, to secure the eggs or the young 
of the sea-fowl ; and in these daring adventures 
displayed an address, and presence of mind, and 
activity, which, in one so young, and not a native 
of the country, astonished the oldest fowlers. 

At other times, Mordaunt accompanied Sweyn 
and other fishermen in their long and perilous 
expeditions to the distant and deep sea, learning 
under their direction the management of the 
boat, in which they equal or exceed, perhaps, 
any natives of the British empire. This exercise 
had charms for Mordaunt, independently of the 
fishing alone. 

At this time, the old Norwegian sagas were 
much remembered, and often rehearsed by the 
fishermen, who still preserved amongst them- 
selves the ancient Norse tongue, which was the 
speech of their forefathers. In the dark romance 
of those Scandinavian tales, lay much that was 


captivating to a youthful ear ; and the classic 
tales of antiquity were rivalled at least, if not 
excelled, in Mordaunt's opinion, by the strange 
legends of Berserkar, of Sea-kings, of dwarfs, 
giants, and sorcerers, which he heard from the 
native Zetlanders. Often the scenes around him 
were assigned as the localities of the wild poems, 
which, half recited, half chaunted, by voices as 
hoarse, if not so loud, as the waves over which 
they floated, pointed out the very bay on which 
they sailed as the scene of a bloody sea-fight ; 
the scarce-seen heap of stones that bristled over 
the projecting cape, as the dun or castle of some 
potent Earl or noted pirate ; the distant and so- 
litary grey stone on the lonely moor, as marking 
the grave of an hero ; the wild cavern, up which 
the sea rolled in heavy, broad, and unbroken 
billows, as the dwelling of some noted sorceress. 
The ocean also had its mysteries, the effect of 
which was aided by the dim twilight, through 
which it was imperfectly seen for more than half 
the year. Its bottomless depths and secret caves 
contained, according to the account of Sweyn and 


others, skilled in legendary lore, such wonders 
as modern navigators reject with disdain. In the 
quiet moonlight bay, where the waves came rip- 
pling to the shore, upon a bed of smooth sand in- 
termingled with shells, the mermaid was still seen 
to glide along the waters by moonlight, and, ming- 
ling her voice with the sighing breeze, was often 
heard tosingof subterranean wonders, or tochaunt 
prophesies of future events. The kraken, that 
hugest of living things, was still supposed to 
cumber the recesses of the Northern Ocean ; and 
often, when some fog-bank covered the sea at a 
distance, the eye of the experienced boatmen saw 
the horns of the monstrous leviathan walking and 
waving amidst the wreaths of mist, and bore away 
with all press of oar and sail, lest the sudden suc- 
tion, occasioned by the sinking of the monstrous 
mass to the bottom, should drag within the grasp 
of its multifarious feelers his own frail skiff. The 
sea-snake was also known, which, arising out of 
the depths of ocean, stretches to the skies his enor- 
mous neck, covered with a mane like that of a 
war-horse, and with its broad glittering eyes, 


raised tnast-head high, looks out, as it seems, for 
plunder or for victims. 

Many prodigious stories of these marine mon- 
sters, and of many others less known, were then 
universally received among the Zetlanders, whose 
descendants have not as yet by any means aban- 
doned faith in them. 

Such legends are, indeed, every where current 
amongst the vulgar ; but the imagination is far 
more powerfully affected by them on the deep 
and dangerous seas of the north, amidst precipi- 
ces and headlands, many hundred feet in height, 
— amid perilous straits, and currents, and eddies, 
— long sunken reefs of rock, over which the vivid 
ocean foams and boils, — dark caverns, to whose 
extremities neither man nor skiff has ever ven- 
tured, — lonely, and often uninhabited isles, — and 
occasionally the ruins of ancient northern fast- 
nesses, dimly seen by the feeble light of the Arc- 
tic winter. To Mordaunt, who had much of ro- 
mance in his disposition, these superstitions form- 
ed a pleasing and interesting exercise of the ima- 
gination, while, half doubting, half inclined to be- 


lieve, he listened to the tales chaunted concern- 
ing these wonders of nature, and creatures of cre- 
dulous belief, told in the rude but energetic lan- 
guage of the ancient Scalds. 

But there wanted not softer and lighter amuse- 
ments, that might seem better suited toMordaunt's 
age, than the wild tales and rude exercises which 
we have already mentioned. The season of win- 
ter, when, from the shortness of the day-light, 
labour becomes impossible, is in Zetland the time 
of revel, feasting, and merriment. Whatever the 
fisherman has been able to acquire during sum- 
mer, was expended, and often wasted, in maintain- 
ing the mirth and hospitality of his hearth du- 
ring this period ; while the landholders and gen- 
tlemen of the island gave double loose to their 
convivial and hospitable dispositions, thronged 
their houses with guests, and drove away the ri- 
gour of the season with jest, glee, and song, the 
dance, and the wine-cup. 

Amid the revels of this merry, though rigo- 
rous season, no youth added more spirit to the 
dance, or glee to the revel, than the young stran- 


ger, Mordaunt Mertoun. When his father's state 
of mind permitted, or indeed required his absence, 
he wandered from house to house a welcome guest 
wherever he came, and lent his willing voice to 
the song, and his foot to the revel. A boat, or, 
if the weather, as was often the case, permitted 
not that convenience, one of the numerous ponies, 
which, straying in hordes about the extensive 
moors, may be said to be at any man's command- 
ment, conveyed him from the mansion of one 
hospitable Zetlander to that of another. None 
excelled him in performing the warlike sword- 
dance, a species of amusement which had been 
derived from the habits of the ancient Norse- 
men. He could play upon thegue, and upon the 
common violin, the melancholy and pathetic tunes 
peculiar to the country; and with great spirit 
and execution could relieve their monotony with 
the livelier airs of the North of Scotland. When 
a party set forth as maskers, or, as they are call- 
ed in Scotland, guizards, to visit some neigh- 
bouring laird, or rich udaller, it augured well of 
the expedition if Mordaunt Mertoun could be 


prevailed upon to undertake the office of skudler, 
or leader of the band. Upon these occasions, 
full of fun and frolic, he led his retinue from 
house to house, bringing mirth where he went, 
and leaving regret when he departed. Mordaunt 
became thus generally known, and beloved as ge- 
nerally, through most of the houses composing 
the patriarchal community of the Main Isle ; but 
his visits were most frequently and most willing- 
ly paid at the mansion of his father's landlord and 
protector, Magnus Troil. 

It was not entirely the hearty and sincere wel- 
come of the worthy old Magnate, nor the sense 
that he was in effect his father's patron, which 
occasioned these frequent visits. The hand of 
welcome was indeed received as eagerly as it was 
sincerely given, while the ancient udaller, raising 
himself in his huge chair, whereof the inside was 
lined with well-dressed seal-skins, and the outside 
composed of massive oak, carved by the rude 
graving-tool of some Hamburgh carpenter, shout- 
ed forth his welcome in a tone which might have, 
in ancient times, hailed the return of Ioul, the 


highest festival of the Goths. There was metal 
yet more attractive, and younger hearts, whose 
welcome, if less loud, was as sincere as that of the 
jolly udaller. But it is matter which ought not 
to be discussed at the conclusion of a chapter. 



*' O, Bessy Bell and Mary Gray, 

They were twa bonnie lasses ; 
They bigged a house on yon burn-brae, 

And theekit it ower wi' rashes. 

Fair Bessie Bell 1 loo'ed yestreen, 

And thought I ne'er could alter, 
But Mary Gray's twa pawky een 

Have garr'd my courage faulter." 

Scots Song. 

We have already mentioned Minna and Bren- 
da, the daughters of Magnus Troil. The mother 
had been dead for many years, and they were 
now two beautiful girls, the eldest only eighteen, 
which might be a year or two younger than Mor- 
daunt Mertoun, the second about seventeen. — 
They were the joy of their father's heart, and 
the light of his old eyes ; and although indulged 
to a degree which might have endangered his 
comfort and their own, they repaid his affection 
with a love, into which even blind indulgence had 
not introduced slight regard, or feminine caprice. 


The difference of their tempers and of their com- 
plexions was singularly striking, although com- 
bined, as is usual, with a certain degree of fami- 
ly resemblance. 

The mother of these maidens had been a Scot- 
tish lady from the Highlands of Sutherland, the 
orphan of a noble chief, who, driven from his own 
country during the feuds of the seventeenth cen- 
tury, had found shelter in those peaceful islands, 
which, amidst poverty and seclusion, were thus 
far happy, that they remained un vexed by dis- 
cord, and unstained by civil broil. The father 
(his name was Saint Clair,) pined for his native 
glen, his feudal tower, his clansmen, and his fall- 
en authority, and died not long after his arrival 
in Zetland. The beauty of his orphan daughter, 
despite her Scottish lineage, melted the stout 
heart of Magnus Troil. He sued and was list- 
ened to, and she became his bride ; but dying in 
the fifth year of their union, left him to mourn 
his brief period of domestic happiness. 

From her mother, Minna inherited the stately 
form and dark eyes, the raven locks and finely- 
pencilled brows, which shewed she was, on one 



side at least, a stranger to the blood of Thule. 
Her cheek, 

call it fair, not pale, 

was so slightly and delicately tinged with the rose, 
thatmanythoughtthelilyhadan undue proportion 
in her complexion. But in that predominance of the 
paler flower, there was nothing sickly or languid ; 
it was the true natural complexion of health, and 
corresponded in a peculiar degree with features 
which seemed calculated to express a contempla- 
tive and high-minded character. When Minna 
Troil heard a tale of woe or of injustice, it was 
then her blood rushed to her cheeks, and shewed 
plainly how warm it beat, notwithstanding the 
generally serious, composed, and retiring disposi- 
tion, which her countenance and demeanour seem- 
ed to exhibit. If strangers sometimes conceived 
that these fine features were clouded by melan- 
choly, for which her age and situation could scarce 
have given occasion, they were soon satisfied, upon 
further acquaintance, that the placid, mild quie- 
tude of her disposition, and the mental energy of 
a character which was but little interested in or- 



dinary and trivial occurrences, was the real cause 
of her gravity, and most men, when they knew 
that her melancholy had no ground in real sorrow, 
and was only the aspiration of a soul bent on 
more important objects, than those by which she 
was surrounded, might have wished her what- 
ever could add to her happiness, but could scarce 
have desired that, graceful as she was in her 
natural and unaffected seriousness, she should 
change that deportment for one more gay. In 
short, notwithstanding our wish to have avoided 
that hackneyed simile of an angel, we cannot 
avoid saying there was something in the serious 
beauty of her aspect, in the measured, yet grace- 
ful ease of her motions, in the music of her voice, 
and the serene purity of her eye, that seemed as 
if Minna Troil belonged naturally to some higher 
and better sphere, and was only the chance vi- 
sitant of a world that was scarce worthy of her. 
The scarce less beautiful, equally lovely, and 
equally innocent Brenda, was of a complexion as 
differing from her sister, as they differed in cha- 
racter, taste, and expression. Her profuse locks 
were of that paly brown which receives from the 
passing sun-beam a tinge of gold, but darkens 


again when the ray has passed from it. Her eye, 
her mouth, the beautiful row of teeth, which, in 
her innocent vivacity, were frequently disclosed ; 
the fresh, yet not too bright glow of a healthy 
complexion, tinging a skin like the drifted snow, 
spoke her genuine Scandinavian descent. A fairy 
form, less tall than that of Minna, but even more 
finely moulded into symmetry — a careless, and 
almost childish lightness of step — an eye that 
seemed to look on every object with pleasure, 
from a natural and serene cheerfulness of dispo- 
sition, attracted even more general admiration 
than the charms of her sister, though perhaps 
that which Minna did excite, might be of a more 
intense as well as a more reverential character. 

The dispositions of these lovely sisters were 
not less different than their complexions. In the 
kindly affections, neither could be said to excel 
the other, so much were they attached to their 
father and to each other. But the cheerfulness 
of Brenda mixed itself with the every -day busi- 
ness of life, and seemed inexhaustible in its pro- 
fusion. The less buoyant spirit of her sister, ap- 
peared to bring to society a contented wish to be 
interested and pleased with what was going for- 


ward, but was rather placidly carried along with 
the stream of mirth and pleasure, than disposed 
to aid its progress by any efforts of her own. 
She endured mirth, rather than enjoyed it ; and 
the pleasures in which she most delighted, were 
those of a graver and more solitary cast. The 
knowledge which is derived from books was be- 
yond her reach. Zetland afforded few opportu- 
nities, in those days, of studying the lessons be- 

By dead men to their kind ; 

and Magnus Troil, such as we have described 
him, was not a person within whose mansion the 
means of such knowledge was to be acquired. 
But the book of nature was before Minna, that 
noblest of volumes, where we are ever called to 
wonder and to admire, even when we cannot un- 
derstand. The plants of those wild regions, the 
shells on the shores, and the long list of feathered 
clans which haunt their cliffs and eyries, were as 
well known to Minna Troil, as to the most expe- 
rienced of the fowlers. Her powers of observation 
were wonderful, and little interrupted by other 
tones of feeling. The information which she ac- 


quired by habits of patient attention, were inde- 
libly rivetted in a naturally powerful memory. 
She had also a high feeling for the solitary and 
melancholy grandeur of the scenes in which she 
was placed. The ocean, in all its varied forms of 
sublimity and terror — the tremendous cliffs that 
resound to the ceaseless roar of the billows, and 
the clang of the sea-fowl, had for Minna a charm 
in almost every state in which the changing sea- 
sons exhibited them. With the enthusiastic feel- 
ings proper to the romantic race from which her 
mother descended, the love of natural objects 
was to her a passion capable of not only occupy- 
ing, but at times of agitating her mind. Scenes 
upon which her sister looked with a sense of tran- 
sient awe or emotion, which vanished on her re- 
turn from witnessing them, continued long to fill 
Minna's imagination, not only in solitude, and in 
the silence of the night, but in the hours of so- 
ciety. So that sometimes when she sat like a beau- 
tiful statue, a present member of the domestic 
circle, her thoughts were far absent, wandering 
on the wild sea-shore, and amongst the yet wild- 
er mountains of her native isles. And yet, when 
recalled to conversation, and mingling in it with 


interest, there were few to whom her friends were 
more indebted for enhancing its enjoyments ; and, 
although something in her manners claimed de- 
ference (notwithstanding her early youth) as well 
as affection, even her gay, lovely, and amiable 
sister was not more generally beloved than the 
more retired and pensive Minna. 

Indeed the two lovely sisters were not only 
the delight of their friends, but the pride of those 
islands, where the inhabitants of a certain rank 
were formed, by the remoteness of their situation 
and the general hospitality of their habits, into 
one friendly community. A wandering poet and 
parcel-musician, who, after going through various 
fortunes, had returned to end his days as he could 
in his native islands, had celebrated the daughters 
of Magnus in a poem, which he entitled Night 
and Day ; and, in his description of Minna, might 
almost be thought to have anticipated, though 
only in a rude outline, the exquisite lines of Lord 
Byron, — 

" She walks in beauty, like the night 
Of cloudless climes and starry skies j 

VOL. I. D 


And all that's best of dark and bright 
Meet in her aspect and her eyes : 

Thus mellow'd to that tender light 
Which heaven to gaudy day denies." 

Their father loved the maidens both so well, 
that it might be difficult to say which he liked 
best, saving that, perchance, he loved his graver 
damsel better in the walk without doors, and his 
merry maiden better by the fireside ; that he 
more desired the society of Minna when he was 
sad, and that of Brenda when he was mirthful ; 
and, what was nearly the same thing, preferred 
Minna before noon, and Brenda after the glass 
had circulated in the evening. 

But it was still more extraordinary, that the 
affections of Mordaunt Mertoun seemed to ho- 
ver with the same impartiality as those of their 
father betwixt the two lovely sisters. From his 
boyhood, as we have noticed, he had been a fre- 
quent inmate of the residence of Magnus at 
Burgh-Westra, although it lay nearly twenty 
miles distant from Jarlshof. The impassable cha- 
racter of the country betwixt these places, ex- 
tending over hills covered with loose and qua- 


king bog, and frequently intersected by the creeks 
or arms of the sea, which indent the island on 
either side, as well as by fresh- water streams and 
lakes, rendered the journey difficult, and even 
dangerous, in the dark season ; yet, as soon as 
the state of his father's mind warned him to ab- 
sent himself, Mordaunt, at every risk, and under 
every difficulty, was pretty sure to be found upon 
the next day at Burgh-Westra, having achieved 
his journey in less time than would have been 
employed perhaps by the most active native. 

He was of course set down as a wooer of one 
of the daughters of Magnus, by the public of 
Zetland ; and when the old udaller's great par- 
tiality to the youth was considered, nobody doubt- 
ed that he might aspire to the hand of either of 
those distinguished beauties, with as large a share 
of islets, rocky moorland, and shore-fishings, as 
might be the fitting portion of a favoured child, 
and with the prospect of possessing half the do- 
mains of the ancient house of Troil, when their 
present owner was no more. This seemed all a 
reasonable speculation, and, in theory at least, 
better constructed than many that are current 



through the world as unquestionable facts. But 
alas! all that sharpness of observation which could 
be applied to the conduct of the parties, failed to 
determine the main point, to which of the young 
persons, namely, the attentions of Mordaunt 
were peculiarly devoted. He seemed, in general, 
to treat them as an affectionate and attached bro- 
ther might have treated two sisters, so equally 
dear to him that a breath would have turned the 
scale of affection. Or if at any time, which oft- 
en happened, the one maiden appeared the more 
especial object of his attention, it seemed only to 
be because circumstances called her peculiar ta- 
lents and disposition into more particular and 
immediate exercise. 

They were both accomplished in the simple 
music of the north, and Mordaunt, who was their 
assistant, and sometimes their preceptor, when 
they Were practising this delightful art, might be 
now seen assisting Minna in the acquisition of 
those wild, solemn, and simple airs, to which 
Scalds and harpers sung of old the deeds of he- 
roes, and presently found equally active in teach- 
ing Brenda the more lively and complicated mu- 


sic, which their father's affection caused to be 
brought from the English or Scottish capital for 
the use of his daughters. And while conversing 
with them, Mordaunt, who mingled a strain of 
deep and ardent enthusiasm with the gay and un- 
governable gaiety of youth, was equally ready to 
enter into the wild and poetical visions of Minna, 
or into the lively, and often humorous chat of 
her gayer sister. In short, so little did he seem 
to attach himself to either damsel exclusively, 
that he was sometimes heard to say, that Minna 
never looked so lovely as when her light-hearted 
sister had induced her, for the time, to forget her 
habitual gravity; or Brenda so interesting as 
when she sate listening, a subdued and affected 
partaker of the deep pathos of her sister Minna. 
The public were, therefore, to use the hunter's 
phrase, at fault in their farther conclusions, and 
could but determine, after long vacillating be- 
twixt the maidens, that Mordaunt was positively 
to marry one of them, but which could only be 
determined when his approaching manhood, or 
the interference of stout old Magnus, the father, 
should teach Master Mordaunt Mertoun to know 


his own mind. " It was a pretty thing, indeed/ 1 
they usually concluded, " that he, no native born, 
and possessed of no visible means of subsistence 
that was known to any one, should presume to 
hesitate, or affect to have the power of selection 
and choice, betwixt the two most distinguished 
beauties of Zetland. If they were Magnus Troil, 
they would soon be at the bottom of the matter"— 
and so forth. All which remarks were only whis- 
pered, for the hasty disposition of the udaller had 
too ikucIi of the old Norse fire about it to render 
k safe for any one to become an unauthorized in- 
termeddle!' with his family affairs ; and thus stood 
the relation of Mordaunt Mertoun to the family 
ef Mr Troil of Burgh- Westra, when the follow- 
ing incidents took place. 



u This is no pilgrim's morning — yon grey mist 
Lies upon hill, and dale, and tield, and forest, 
Like the dun wimple of a new-made widow ; 
And, by my faith, although my heart be soft, 
I'd rather hear that widow weep and sigh, 
And tell the virtues of the dear- departed, 
Than, when the tempest sends his voice abroad, 
Be subject to its fury." 

The Double Nuptials. 

The spring was far advanced, when, after a 
week spent in sport and festivity at Burgh- West- 
ra, Mordaunt Mertoun bade adieu to the family, 
pleading the necessity of his return to Jarlshof. 
The proposal was combatted by the maidens, and 
more decidedly by Magnus himself: He saw 
no occasion whatever for Mordaunt returning to 
Jarlshof. If his father desired to see him, which, 
by the way, Magnus did not believe, Mr Mer- 
toun had only to throw himself into the stern of 
Sweyirs boat, or betake himself to a poney, if he 
liked a land journey better, and he would see not 


only his son, but twenty folks besides, who would 
be most happy to find that he had not lost the use 
of his tongue entirely during his long solitude ; 
" although I must own, 1 ' added Magnus, " that 
when he lived amongst us, nobody ever made less 
use of it.'' 1 

Mordaunt acquiesced both in what respected 
his father's taciturnity and his dislike to general 
society ; but suggested, at the same time, that the 
first circumstance rendered his own immediate re- 
turn more necessary, as he was the usual channel 
of communication betwixt his father and others ; 
and that the second corroborated the same neces- 
sity, since Mr Mertouns having no other society 
whatever, seemed a weighty reason why his son's 
should be restored to him without loss of time. 
As to his father's coming toBurgh-Westra, " they 
might as well," he said, " expect to see Sumburgh 
Cape come thither." 

" And that would be a cumbrous guest," said 
Magnus ; " but you will stop for our dinner to- 
day ? There are the families of Muness, Quen- 
dale, Therelivoe, and I know not whom else' are 
expected ; and, besides the thirty that were in 
the house this blessed night, we *hall have as 


many more as chamber and bower, and barn and 
boat-house, can furnish with beds, or with barley - 
straw, and you will leave all this behind you !" 

" And the blithe dance at night,"" added Bren- 
da, in a tone betwixt reproach and vexation ; 
" and the young men from the Isle of Paba that 
are to dance the sword- dance, whom shall we find 
to match them, for the honour of the Main ?" 

" There is many a merry dancer on the main- 
land, Brenda, 11 replied Mordaunt, " even if I 
should never rise on tiptoe again. And where 
good dancers are found, Brenda Troil will always 
find the best partner. I must trip it to-night 
through the Wastes of Dunrossness. 11 

" Do not say so, Mordaunt, 11 said Minna, who, 
during this conversation, had been looking from 
the window something anxiously; " go not to-day 
at least, through the Wastes of Dunrossness. 11 

" And why not to-day, Minna, 11 said Mor- 
daunt, laughing, " any more than to-morrow ?" 

" O, the morning mist lies heavy upon yonder 
chain of isles, nor has it permitted us since day- 
break even a single glimpse of Fitful-Head, the 
lofty cape that concludes yon splendid range of 



mountains.. The fowl are winging their way to 
the shore, and the shell-drake seems, through the 
mist, as large as the scarf. See, the very shear- 
waters and bonxies are making to the cliff for 

" And they will ride out a gale against a king's 
frigate," said her father ; " there is foul weather 
when they cut and run." 

*'Stay, then, with us," said Minna ; " the storm 
will be dreadful, yet it will be grand to see it 
from Burgh- Westra, if we have no friend expo- 
sed to its fury. See, the air is close and sultry, 
though the season is yet so early, and the day so 
calm, that not a windel-straw moves on the heath. 
Stay with us, Mordaunt ; the storm which these 
signs announce will be a dreadful one." 

" I must be gone the sooner," was the conclu- 
sion of Mordaunt, who could not deny the signs, 
which had not escaped his own quick observation. 
" If the storm be too fierce, I will abide for the 
night at Stourburgh." 

" What !" said Magnus ; " will you leave us 
for the new chamberlain's new Scots tacksman, 
who is to teach all us Zetland savages new ways ? 


Take your own gait, my lad, if that is the song 
vou sincr." 


"Nay," said Mordaunt ; " I had only some cu- 
riosity to see the new implements he has brought." 

" Ay, ay, ferlies make fools fain. I would like 
to know if his new plough will bear against a 
Zetland rock ?" answered Magnus. 

M I will pass Stourburgh on the journey," said 
the youth, deferring to his patron's prejudice 
against innovation, u if this boding weather 
bring on tempest ; but if it only break in rain, as 
is most probable, I am not likely to be melted in 
the wetting." 

* It will not soften into rain alone," said Min- 
na ; "see how much heavier the clouds fall every 
moment, and see these weather-gaws that streak 
the lead-coloured mass with partial gleams of 
faded red and purple." 

" I see them all," said Mordaunt ; " but they 
only tell me I have no time to tarry here. Adieu, 
Minna ; I will send you the eagle's feathers, if 
an eagle can be found on Fair-isle or Foulah. 
And fare thee well, my pretty Brenda, and keep 
a thought for me, should the Paba men* dance 
ever so well." 


" Take care of yourself, since go you will," 
said both sisters, together. 

Old Magnus scolded them formally for suppo- 
sing there was any danger to an active young fel- 
low from a spring gale, whether by sea or land ; 
yet ended by giving his own caution also to Mor- 
daunt, advising him seriously to delay his jour- 
ney, or at least to stop at Stourburgh. " For," 
said he, " second thoughts are best ; and as this 
Scotsman's howf lies right under your lee, why, 
take any port in a storm. But do not be assured 
to find the door on latch, let the storm blow ever 
so hard ; there are such matters as bolts and bars 
in Scotland, though, thanks to Saint Ronald, they 
are unknown here, save that great lock on the old 
Castle of Scalloway, that all men run to see — 
may be they make part of this man's improve- 
ments. But go, Mordaunt, since go you will. 
You should drink a stirrup-cup now, were 
you three years older, but boys should never 
drink, excepting after dinner ; I will drink it for 
you, that good customs may not be broken, or 
bad luck come of it. Here is your bonally, my 
lad. 1 ' -And so saving, he quaffed a rummer glass 
of brandy with as much impunity as if it had 


been spring-water. Thus regretted and caution- 
ed on all hands, Mordaunt took leave of the hos- 
pitable household, and looking back at the com- 
forts with which it was surrounded, and the dense 
smoke that rolled upwards from its chimnies, he 
first recollected the guestless and solitary desola- 
tion of Jarlshof, then compared with the sullen 
and moody melancholy of his fathers temper the 
warm kindness of those whom he was leaving, and 
could not refrain from a sigh at the thoughts which 
forced themselves on his imagination. 

The signs of the tempest did not dishonour the 
predictions of Minna. Mordaunt had not advan- 
ced three hours upon his journey, before the 
wind, which had been so deadly still in the morn- 
ing, began at first to wail and sigh, as if bemoan- 
ing beforehand the evils which it might perpe- 
trate in its fury, like a madman in the gloomy 
state of dejection which precedes his fit of vio- 
lence ; then gradually increasing, the gale howL 
ed, raged, and roared, with the full fury of a north- 
ern storm. It was accompanied by showers of 
rain mixed with hail, which were dashed with the 
most unrelenting rage against the hills and rocks 
with which the traveller was surrounded, distract- 


ing his attention, in spite of his uttermost exe©<. 
tions, and rendering it very difficult for him to 
keep the direction of his journey in a country 
where is neither road, nor even the slightest track 
to direct the steps of the wanderer, and where he 
is often interrupted by large pools of water, lakes, 
and lagoons. All these inland waters were now 
lashed into sheets of tumbling foam, much of 
which, carried off by the fury of the whirlwind, 
was mingled with the gale, and transported far 
from the waves of which they had lately made a 
part ; while the salt relish of the drift which was 
pelted against his face, shewed Mordaunt that 
the spray of the more distant ocean, disturbed 
to frenzy by the storm, was mingled with that of 
the inland lakes and streams. 

Amidst this hideous combustion of the ele- 
ments, Mordaunt Mertoun struggled forward as 
one to whom such elemental w r ar was familiar, 
and who regarded the exertions which it required 
to withstand its fury, but as a mark of resolution 
and manhood. He felt even, as happens usually 
to those who endure great hardships, that the ex- 
ertion necessary to subdue them, is in itself a 
kind of elevating triumph. To see and distin- 


guish his path when the cattle were driven from 
the hill, and the very fowls from the firmament, 
was but the stronger proof of his own superiority. 
** They shall not hear of me at Burgh- Westra," 
said he to himself, u as they heard of old doited 
Ringan Ewenson's boat, that foundered betwixt 
road-stead and key. I am more of a crags-man 
than to mind fire or water, wave by sea, or quag- 
mire by land." Thus he struggled on, buffet- 
ing with the storm, supplying the want of the 
usual signs by which travellers directed their 
course, (for rock, mountain, and headland, were 
shrouded in mist and darkness,) by the instinc- 
tive sagacity with which long acquaintance with 
these wilds had taught him to mark every minute 
object which could serve in such circumstances to 
regulate his course. Thus, we repeat, he strug- 
gled onward, occasionally standing still, or even 
lying down, when the gust was most impetuous ; 
making way against it when it was somewhat lull- 
ed, by a rapid and bold advance even in its very 
current ; or, when this was impossible, by a move- 
ment resembling that of a vessel working to wind- 
ward by short tacks, but never yielding one inch 
of the way which he had fought so hard to gain. 


Yet, notwithstanding Mordaunt's experience 
and resolution, his situation was sufficiently un- 
comfortable, and even precarious ; not because his 
sailor's jacket and trowsers, the common dress of 
young men through these isles when on a jour- 
ney, were thoroughly wet, for that might have 
taken place within the same brief time, in any 
ordinary day, in this watery climate ; but the real 
danger was, that, notwithstanding his utmost ex- 
ertions, he made very slow way through brooks 
that were sending their waters all abroad, through 
morasses drowned in double deluges of moisture, 
which rendered all the ordinary passes more than 
usually dangerous, and repeatedly obliged the 
traveller to perform a considerable circuit, which 
in the usual case was unnecessary, Thus re- 
peatedly baffled, notwithstanding his youth and 
strength, Mordaunt, after maintaining a dogged 
conflict with wind, rain, and the fatigue of a pro- 
longed journey, was truly happy, when, not with- 
out having been more than once mistaken in his 
road, he at length found himself within sight of 
the house of Stourburgh, or Harfra, for the names 
were indifferently given to the residence of Mr 
Triptolemus Yellowley, who was the chosen mis- 


sionary of the Chamberlain of Orkney and Zet- 
land, a speculative person, who designed, through 
the medium of Triptolemus, to introduce into the 
ultima Thule of the Romans a spirit of improve- 
ment, which at that early period was scarce known 
to exist in Scotland itself. 

At length, and with much difficulty, Mor- 
daunt reached the house of this worthy agricul- 
turist, the only refuge from the relentless storm 
which he could hope for several miles ; and going 
straight to the door, with the most undoubting 
confidence of instant admission, he was not a lit- 
tle surprised to find it not merely latched, which 
the weather might excuse, but even bolted, a 
thing which, as Magnus Troil has already inti- 
mated, was almost unknown in the Archipelago. 
To knock, to call, and finally to batter the door 
with staff and stones, were the natural resources 
of the youth, who was rendered alike impatient 
by the pelting of the storm, and by the most un- 
expected and unusual obstacles to instant admis- 
sion. As he was suffered, however, for many 
minutes to exhaust his impatience in noise and 

VOL. I. E 


clamour, without receiving any reply, we will em- 
ploy them in informing the reader who Tripto- 
lemus Yellowley was, and how he came by a name 
so singular. 

Old Jasper Yellowley, the father of Triptole- 
mus, (though born at the foot of Roseberry- 
Topping,) had been come over by a certain noble 
Scottish Earl, who, proving too far north for can- 
nv Yorkshire, had persuaded him to accept of a 
farm in the Mearns, where, it is unnecessary to 
add, that he found matters very different from 
what he expected. It was in vain that the stout 
farmer set manfully to work, to counterbalance, 
by superior skill, the inconveniences arising from 
a cold soil and a weeping climate. These might 
have been probably overcome, but his neigh- 
bourhood to the Grampians exposed him eter- 
nally to that species of visitation from the plaid- 
ed gentry who dwelled within their skirts, which 
made young Norval a warrior and a hero, but 
only converted Jasper Yellowley into a poor man. 
This was, indeed, balanced in some sort by the 
impression which his ruddy cheek and robust 
form had the fortune to make upon Miss Bar- 


bara Clinkscale, daughter to the umquhile, and 
sister to the then existing Clinkscale of that ilk. 
This was thought a horrid and unnatural union 
in the neighbourhood, considering that the house 
of Clinkscale had at least as great a share of Scot- 
tish pride as of Scottish parsimony, and were 
amply endowed with both. But Miss Babie had 
her handsome fortune of two thousand merks at 
her own disposal, was a woman of spirit who 
had been major and sui juris, (as the writer who 
drew the contract assured her,) for full twenty 
years ; so she set consequences and commenta- 
ries alike at defiance, and wedded the hearty 
Yorkshire yeoman. Her brother and her more 
wealthy kinsmen drew off in disgust, and almost 
disowned their degraded relative. But the house 
of Clinkscale was allied (like every other family 
in Scotland at the time) to a set of relations 
who were not so nice — tenth and sixteenth cou- 
sins, who not only acknowledged their kinswo- 
man Babie after her marriage with Yellowley, but 
even condescended toeatbeans and bacon (though 
the latter was then the abomination of the Scots 
as much as of the Jews) with her husband, and 


would willingly have cemented the friendship by 
borrowing a little cash from him, had not his 
good lady (who understood trap as well as any 
woman in the Mearns) put a negative on this 
advance to intimacy. Indeed she knew how to 
make young Deelbelicket, old Dougald Bare- 
sword, the Laird of Bandybrawl, and others, pay 
for the hospitality which she did not think pro- 
per to deny them, by rendering them useful 
in her negociations with the light-handed lads 
beyond the Cairn, who, finding their late object 
of plunder was now allied to " kend folks, and 
owned by them at kirk and market," became sa- 
tisfied, on a moderate yearly composition, to de- 
sist from their depredations. 

This eminent success reconciled Jasper to the 
dominion which his wife began to assume over 
him ; and which was much confirmed by her pro- 
ving to be — let me see — what is the prettiest mode 
of expressing it ? — in the family way. On this oc- 
casion, Mrs Yellowley had a remarkable dream, 
as is the usual practice of teeming mothers pre- 
vious to the birth of an illustrious offspring. She 
" was a-dreamed," as her husband expressed it, 


that she was safely delivered of a plough, drawn 
by three yoke of Angus-shire oxen ; and being 
a mighty investigator into such portents, she sate 
herself down with her gossips, to consider what 
the thing might mean. Honest Jasper ventured, 
with much hesitation, to intimate his own opinion, 
that the vision had reference rather to things 
past than things present, and might have been oc- 
casioned by his wife's nerves having been a little 
startled by meeting in the loan above the house 
his own great plough with the six oxen, which 
were the pride of his heart. But the good cum- 
mers raised such a hue and cry against this ex- 
position, that Jasper was fain to put his fingers 
in his ears, and to run out of the apartment. 

" Hear to him,'' 1 said an old whigamore car- 
line — " hear to him 5 wT his owsen, that are as 
an idol to him, even as the calf of Bethel ! Na, 
na — its nae pleugh of the flesh that the bonnie 
lad bairn — for a lad it sail be — shall e'er striddle 
between the stilts d' — its the pleugh of the spirit 
— and I trust mysell to see him wag the head 
o' him in a pu'pit ; or, at the warst, on a hill- 
side: 1 


" Now the deiPs in your whiggery," said the old 
lady Glenprosing ; " wad ye hae our cummers 
bonnie lad-bairn wag the head aff his shouthers 
like your godly Mess James Guthrie, that ye hald 
such a clavering about ? — Na, na, he sail walk a 
mair siccar path, and be a dainty curate — and 
say he should live to be a bishop, what the waur 
wad he be ?" 

The gauntlet thus fairly flung down by one 
sybil, was caught up by another, and the contro- 
versy raged, roared, or rather screamed, a round 
of cinnamon-water serving only like oil to the 
flame, till Jasper entered with the plough-staff; 
and by the awe of his presence, and the shame 
of misbehaving " before the stranger man," im- 
posed some conditions of silence upon the dispu- 

I do not know whether it was impatience to 
give to the light a being destined to such high 
and doubtful fates, or whether poor Dame Yel- 
lowley was rather frightened at the hurly-burly 
which had taken place in her presence, but she 
was taken suddenly ill ; and, contrary to the for- 
mula in such cases used and provided, was soon 


reported to be " a good deal worse than was to be 
expected." She took the opportunity (having still 
all her wits about her) to extract from her sym- 
pathetic husband two promises ; first, that he 
would christen the child, whose birth was like to 
cost her so dear, by a name indicative of the vi- 
sion with which she had been favoured ; and 
next, that he would educate him for the ministry. 
The canny Yorkshireman, thinking she had a 
good title at present to dictate in such matters, 
subscribed to all she required. A man-child was 
accordingly born under these conditions, but the 
state of the mother did not permit her for many 
days to inquire how far they had been complied 
with. W hen she was in some degree convales- 
cent, she was informed, that as it was thought fit 
the child should be immediately christened, it 
had received the name of Triptolemus ; the Cu- 
rate, who was a man of some classical skill, con- 
ceiving that this epithet contained a handsome 
and classical allusion to the visionary plough, with 
its triple yoke of oxen. Mrs Yellowley was not 
much delighted with the manner in which her re- 
quest had been complied with ; but grumbling 


being to as little purpose as in the celebrated case 
of Tristram Shandy, she e'en sat down content- 
ed with the heathenish name, and endeavoured to 
counteract the effects it might produce upon the 
taste and feelings of the nominee, by such an edu- 
cation asmight put him above the slightestthought 
of sacks, coulters, stilts, mould-boards, or any thing 
connected with the servile drudgery of the plough. 
Jasper, sage Yorkshireman, smiled slily in his 
sleeve, conceiving that young Trippie was likely 
to prove a chip of the old block, and would ra- 
ther take after the jolly Yorkshire yeoman, than 
the gentle but somewhat aigre blood of the house 
of Clinkscale. He remarked, with suppressed 
glee, that the tune which best answered the pur- 
pose of a lullaby was the " ploughman's whistle,"" 
and the first words the infant learned to stammer 
were the names of the oxen ; moreover, that the 
" bern" preferred home-brewed ale to Scotch two- 
penny, and never quitted hold of the tankard with 
so much reluctance as when there had been, by 
some manoeuvre of Jasper's own device, a double 
straik of malt allowed to the brewing, above that 
which was sanctioned by the most liberal recipe, 


of which his dame's household thrift admitted. 
Besides this, when no other means could be fallen 
upon to divert an occasional fit of squalling, his 
father observed that Trip could be always silen- 
ced by jingling a bridle at his ear. From all 
which symptoms, he used to swear in private, 
that the boy would prove true Yorkshire, and 
mother, and mother's kin, would have small share 
of him. 

Meanwhile, and within a year after the birth 
of Triptolemus, Mrs Yellowley bore a daughter, 
named after herself Barbara, who, even in ear- 
liest infancy, exhibited the pinched nose and thin 
lips by which the Clinkscale family were distin- 
guished amongst the inhabitants of the Mearns ; 
and as her childhood advanced, the readiness 
with which she seized, and the tenacity where- 
with she detained, the playthings of Triptolemus, 
besides a desire to bite, pinch, and scratch, on 
slight, or no provocation, were all considered by 
attentive observers as proofs that Miss Baby 
would prove " her mother over again." Malici- 
ous people did not stick to say, that the acrimo- 
nv of the Clinkscale blood had not on this occa- 


6ion been cooled and sweetened by that of old 
England; that youngDeilbelicketwasmuchabout 
the house, and they could not but think it odd 
that Mrs Yellowley, who, as the whole world knew, 
gave nothing for nothing, should be so uncom- 
monly attentive to heap the trencher, and to fill 
the caup, of an idle blackguard ne'er-do-weel. 
But when folks had once looked upon the austere 
and awfully virtuous countenance of Mrs Yel- 
lowley, they did full justice to her propriety of 
conduct, and Deilbelicket's delicacy of taste. 

Meantime young Triptolemus having received 
such instructions as the curate could give him, 
(for though Dame Yellowley adhered to the per- 
secuted remnant, her jolly husband, edified by 
the black gown and prayer-book, still conformed 
to the church as by law established,) was, in due 
process of time, sent to Saint Andrews to prose- 
cute his studies. He went, it is true, but with 
an eye turned back with sad remembrances on 
his father's plough, his father's pancakes, and his 
father's ale, for which the small beer of the col- 
lege, commonly there termed " through go nim- 
ble," furnished a poor substitute. Yet he advan- 


ced in his learning, being found, however, to 
shew a particular favour to such authors of an- 
tiquity as had made the improvement of the soil 
the object of their researches. He endured the 
Bucolics of Virgil — the Georgics he had by heart 
— but the Mneid he could not away with ; and he 
was particularly severe upon the celebrated line 
expressing a charge of cavalry, because, as he un- 
derstood the word putrem,* he opined that the 
combatants, in their inconsiderate ardour, gallop- 
ed over a new-manured ploughed field. Cato, the 
Roman Censor, was his favourite among classical 
heroes and philosophers, not on account of the 
strictness of his morals, but because of his trea- 
tise, d€ Re Rustica. He had ever in his mouth 
the phrase of Cicero, jam ne minem antepenes 
Catoni. He thought well of Palladius, and of 
Terentius Varro, but Columella was his pocket 
companion. To these ancient worthies, he added 
the more modern Tusser, Hartlib, and other wri- 
ters on rural economics, not forgetting the lucu- 
brations of the Shepherd of Salisbury Plain, and 

* Quadrupetlumque putrem sonitu quatit ungula campum. 


such of the better-informed Philomaths, who, in- 
stead of loading their almanacks with vain pre- 
dictions of political events, directed the attention 
of their readers to that course of cultivation from 
which the production of good crops might be safely 
predicted, and who, careless of the rise and down- 
fall of empires, contented themselves with point- 
ing out the fit seasons to reap and sow, with a fair 
guess at the weather which each month will be 
likely to present ; as, for example, that if Heaven 
pleases, we shall have snow in January, and the 
author will stake his reputation that July proves, 
on the whole, a month of sunshine. Now, although 
the Rector of Saint Leonard's was greatly pleased 
in general, with the quiet, laborious, and studious 
bent of Triptolemus Yellowley, and deemed him, 
in so far, worthy of a name of four syllables, ha- 
ving a Latin termination, yet he relished not, by 
any means, his exclusive attention to his favourite 
authors. It savoured of the earth, he said, if not of 
something worse, to have a man's mind always 
grovelling in mould, stercorated or unstercorated; 
and he pointed out, but in vain, history, and poe- 
try, and divinity, as more elevating subjects of 


occupation. Triptolemus Yellowley was obstinate 
in his own course : Of the battle of Pharsalia, 
he thought not as it affected the freedom of the 
world, but dwelt on the rich crop which the Ema- 
thian fields were likely to produce the next sea- 
son. In vernacular poetry, Triptolemus could 
scarce be prevailed upon to read a single couplet, 
excepting old Tusser, as aforesaid, whose Hund- 
red Points of Good Husbandry he had got by 
heart; and excepting also Piers Ploughman's 
Vision, which, charmed with the title, he bought 
with avidity from a packman, but after reading 
the two first pages, flung it into the fire as an im- 
pudent and misnamed political libel. As to di- 
vinity, he summed that matter up by reminding 
his instructors, that to labour the earth and win 
his bread with the toil of his body and sweat of 
his brow, was the lot imposed upon fallen man ; 
and, for his part, he was resolved to discharge, 
to the best of his abilities, a task so obviously ne- 
cessary to existence, leaving others to speculate 
as much as they would, upon the more recondite 
mysteries of theology. 


With a spirit so much narrowed and limited 
to the concerns of rural life, it may be doubted 
whether the proficiency of Triptolemus in learn- 
ing, or the use he was like to make of his acqui- 
sitions, would have much gratified the ambitious 
hope of his affectionate mother. It is true, he 
expressed no reluctance to embrace the profes- 
sion of a clergyman, which suited well enough 
with the habitual personal indolence which some- 
times attaches to speculative dispositions. He 
had views, to speak plainly, (I wish they were 
peculiar to himself,) of cultivating the glebe six 
days in the week, preaching on the seventh with 
due regularity, and dining with some fat frank- 
lin or country laird, with whom he could smoke 
a pipe and drink a tankard after dinner, and mix 
in secret conference on the exhaustless subject, 

Quid faciunt lsetas segetes. 

Now, this plan, besides that it indicated nothing 
of what was then called the root of the matter, 
implied necessarily the possession of a manse ; and 
the possession of a manse inferred compliance 
with the doctrines of prelacy, and other enormi- 


ties of the time. There was some question how 
far manse and glebe, stipend, victual, and mo- 
ney, might have out-balanced the good lady's 
predisposition towards Presbytery ; but her zeal 
was not put to so severe a trial. She died before 
her son had completed his studies, leaving her af- 
flicted spouse just as disconsolate as was to be ex- 
pected. The first act of old Jasper's undivided ad- 
ministration was to recal his son from Saint An- 
drews, in order to obtain his assistance in his do- 
mestic labours. And here it might have been sup- 
posed that our Tiiptolemus, summoned to carry 
into practice what he had so fondly studied in 
theory, must have been, to use a simile which 
he would have thought lively, like a cow entering 
upon a clover park. Alas, mistaken thoughts, 
and deceitful hopes of mankind I 

A laughing philosopher, the Democritus of our 
day, once compared human life to a table pierced 
with a number of holes, each of which has a pin 
made exactly to fit it, but which pins being stuck 
in hastily, and without selection, chance leads in- 
evitably to the most awkward mistakes. " For, 
how often do we see," the orator pathetically con- 


eluded, — " how often, I say, do we see the round 
man stuck into the three-cornered hole ?" This 
new illustration of the vagaries of fortune set every 
one present into convulsions of laughter, except- 
ing one fat alderman, who seemed to make the 
case his own, and insisted that it was no jesting 
matter. To take up the simile, however, which 
is an excellent one, it is plain that Triptolemus 
Yellowley had been shaken out of the bag at least 
a hundred years too soon. If he had come on the 
stage in our own time, that is, if he had flourish- 
ed at any time within these thirty or forty years, 
he could not have missed to have held the office 
of vice-president of some eminent agricultural so- 
ciety, and to have transacted all the business 
thereof under the auspices of some noble duke or 
lord, who, as the matter might happen, either 
knew, or did not know, the difference betwixt a 
horse and a cart, and a cart-horse. He could not 
have missed such preferment, for he was exceed- 
dingly learned in all those particulars, which /being 
of no consequence in actual practice, go of course 
a great way to constitute the character of a con- 
noisseur in any art, but especially in agriculture. 


But, alas ! Triptolemus Yellowley had, as we al- 
ready have hinted, come into the world at least a 
century too soon ; for, instead of sitting in an arm- 
chair, with a hammer in his hand, and a bumper 
of port before him, giving forth the toast, — " To 
breeding, in all its branches," his father planted 
him betwixt the stilts of a plough, and invited him 
to guide the oxen, on whose beauties he would, in 
our day, have descanted, and whose rumps he 
would not have goaded, but have carved. Old 
Jasper complained, that although no one talked 
so well of common and several, wheat and rape, 
fallow and lea, as his learned son, (whom he al- 
ways called Tolimus,) yet, " dang it," added the 
Seneca, " nought thrives wi' un — nought thrives 
wi' un." It was still worse, when Jasper, beco- 
ming frail and ancient, was obliged, as happened 
in the course of a few years, gradually to yield up 
the reins of government to the academical neo- 

As if Nature had meant him a spite, he had 
got one of the dourest and most untractable farms 
on the Mearns, to try conclusions withal, a place 
which seemed to yield every thing but what the 

VOL. I. F 


agriculturist wanted ; for there were plenty of 
thistles, which indicates dry land ; and store of 
fern, which is said to intimate deep land; and 
nettles, which shew where lime hath been applied; 
and deep furrows in the most unlikely spots, which 
intimated that it had been cultivated in former 
days by the Peghts, as popular tradition bore. 
There was also plenty of stones to keep the ground 
warm, according to the creed of some farmers, and 
great abundance of springs to render it cool and 
sappy, according to the theory of others. It was 
in vain that, acting alternately on these opinions, 
poor Triptolemus endeavoured to avail himself of 
the supposed capabilities of the soil. No kind of 
butter that might be churned could be made to 
stick upon his own bread, any more than on that 
of poor Tusser, whose Hundred Points of Good 
Husbandry, so useful to others of his day, were 
never to himself worth as many pennies. 

In fact, excepting an hundred acres of infield, 
to which old Jasper had early seen the necessity 
of limiting his labours, there was not a corner of 
the farm fit for any thing but to break plough- 
graith, and kill cattle. And then, as for the part 


which was really tilled with some profit, the ex- 
pence of the farming establishment of Triptole- 
mus, and his disposition to experiment, soon got 
rid of any good arising from the cultivation of it. 
" The carles and the cart-avers," he confessed, 
with a sigh, speaking of his farm-servants and 
horses, " make it all, and the carles and cart-avers 
eat it all ;" a conclusion which might sum up the 
year-book of many a gentleman-farmer. 

Matters would have soon been brought to a 
close with Triptolemus in the present day. He 
would have got a bank-credit, manoeuvred with 
wind-bills, dashed out upon a large scale, and 
soon have seen his crop and stock sequestrated 
by the Sheriff; but in those days a man could 
not ruin himself so easily. The whole Scottish 
tenantry stood upon the same level flat of pover- 
ty, so that it was extremely difficult to find any 
vantage ground, by climbing up to which a man 
might have an opportunity of actually breaking 
his neck with some eclat. They were pretty much 
in the situation of people, who, being totally with- 
out credit, may indeed suffer from indigence, but 


cannot possibly become bankrupt. Besides, not- 
withstanding the failure of Triptolemus's pro- 
jects, there was to be balanced against the expen- 
diture which they occasioned, all the savings 
which the extreme economy of his sister Barbara 
could effect ; and in truth her exertions were won- 
derful. She might have realized, if any one could, 
the idea of the learned philosopher, who pro- 
nounced that sleeping was a fancy, and eating 
but a habit, and who appeared to the world to 
have renounced both, until it was unhappily dis- 
covered that he had an intrigue with the cook- 
maid of the family, who indemnified him for his 
privations by giving him private entree to the 
larder, and to a share of her own couch. But no 
such deceptions were practised by Barbara Yel- 
lowley. She was up early, and down late, and 
seemed, to her over-watched and over-tasked maid- 
ens, to be as wakerife as the cat herself. Then, for 
eating, it appeared that the air was a banquet to 
her, and she would fain have made it so to her re- 
tinue. Her brother, who besides being lazy in his 
person, was somewhat luxurious in his appetite, 


would willingly now and then have tasted a mouth- 
ful of animal food, were it but to know how his 
sheep were fed off ; but a proposal to eat a child 
could not have startled Mistress Barbara more ; 
and, being of a compliant and easy disposition, 
Triptolemus reconciled himself to the necessity 
of a perpetual Lent, too happy when he could 
get a scrap of butter to his oaten cake, or (as 
they lived on the banks of the Eske) escape the 
daily necessity of eating salmon, whether in or 
out of season, six days out of the seven. 

But although Mrs Barbara brought faithfully 
to the joint stock all savings which her awful 
powers of economy accomplished to scrape to- 
gether, and although the dower of their mother 
was by degrees expended, or nearly so, in aid- 
ing them upon extreme occasions, the term at 
length approached when it seemed impossible 
that they could sustain the conflict any longer 
against the evil star of Triptolemus, as he called 
it himself, or the natural result of his absurd spe- 
culations, as it was termed by others. Luckily 
at this sad crisis, a god jumped down to their re* 


lief out of a machine. In plain English, the noble 
lord, who owned their farm, arrived at his man- 
sion-house in their neighbourhood, with his coach 
and six and his running footmen, in the full 
splendour of the seventeenth century. 

This person of quality was the son of the no- 
bleman who had brought the ancient Jasper in- 
to the country from Yorkshire, and he was, like 
his father, a fanciful and scheming man. He 
had schemed well for himself, however, amid the 
mutations of the time, having obtained for a cer- 
tain period of years, the administration of the re- 
mote islands of Orkney and Zetland, for pay- 
ment of a certain rent, with the right of making 
the most of whatever was the property or revenue 
of the crown in these districts, under the title of 
Lord Chamberlain. Now, his lordship had be- 
come possessed with a notion, in itself a very true 
one, that much might be done to render this grant 
available, by improving the culture of the crown 
lands, both in Orkney and Zetland ; and then, 
having some acquaintance with our friend Trip- 
tolemus, he thought (rather less happily) that he 


might prove a person capable of furthering his 
schemes. He sent for him to the great Hall- 
house, and was so much edified by the way in 
which our friend laid down the law upon every 
given subject, that he lost no time in securing 
the co-operation of so valuable an assistant. 

The terms were arranged much to the mind 
of Triptolemus, who had already been taught, 
by many years experience, a dark sort of notion, 
that without undervaluing or doubting for a mo- 
ment his own skill, it would be quite as well that 
almost all the trouble and risk should be at the 
expence of his employer. Indeed the hopes of 
advantage which he held out to his patron were 
so considerable, that the Lord Chamberlain drop- 
ped every idea of admitting his dependent into 
any share of the expected profits ; for, rude as 
the arts of agriculture were in Scotland, they 
were far superior to those known and practised 
in the regions of Thule, and Triptolemus Yel- 
lowley conceited himself to be possessed of a 
degree of insight into these mysteries, far supe- 
rior to what was possessed or practised in the 


Mearn9. The improvement, therefore, which was 
to be expected, would bear a double proportion, 
and the Lord Chamberlain was to reap all the 
profit, deducting a handsome salary for his stew- 
ard, Yellowley, together with the accommodation 
of a house and domestic farm, for the support of 
his family. Joy seized the heart of Mistress Bar- 
bara, at hearing this happy termination of what 
threatened to be so very bad an affair as their 
lease of Cauldshouthers. 

P If we cannot," she said, " provide for our 
own house, when all is coming in, and nothing 
going out, surely we must be worse than infi- 

Triptolemus was a busy man for some time, 
huffing and puffing, and eating and drinking in 
every change-house, while he ordered and collect- 
ed together proper implements of agriculture, to 
be used by the natives of these devoted islands, 
whose destinies were menaced with this formi- 
dable change. Strange tools these would be, if 
presented before a modern agricultural society ; 
but every thing is relative, nor could the heavy 


cart-load of timber, called the old Scotch plough, 
seem more strange to a Scottish farmer of this 
present day, than the corslets and casques of the 
soldiers of Cortes might seem to a regiment of our 
soldiers. Yet the latter conquered Mexico, and 
undoubtedly the former would have been a splen- 
did improvement on the state of agriculture in 

We have never been able to learn why Trip- 
tolemus preferred fixing his residence in Zetland, 
to becoming an inhabitant of the Orkneys. Per- 
haps he thought the inhabitants of the latter Ar- 
chipelago the more simple and docile of the two 
kindred tribes ; or perhaps he preferred the si- 
tuation of the house and farm, which he himself 
was to occupy, (which was indeed a tolerable 
one,) as preferable to that which he had it in 
his power to have had upon Pomona, so the 
main island of the Orkneys is entitled. At Har- 
fra, or, as it was sometimes called, Stour-Brugh, 
from the remains of a Pictish fort, which was al- 
most close to the mansion-house, the factor set. 
tied himself, in the plenitude of his authority, 


determined to honour the name he bore by his 
exertions, in precept and example, to civilize the 
Zetlanders,and improve their very confined know- 
ledge in the primary arts of human life. 



The wind blew keen frae north and east ; 

It blew upon the floor. 
Quo' our goodman to our good wife, 

" Get up and bar the door." 

" My hand is in my housewife skep, 

Goodman, as ye may see; 
If it shouldna be barr'd this hundred years, 

It's no be barr'd for me." 

Old Song. 

We can only hope that the gentle reader has 
not found the latter part of the last chapter ex- 
tremely tedious ; but, at any rate, his impatience 
will scarce equal that of young Mordaunt Mer- 
toun, who, while the lightning came flash after 
flash, while the wind, veering and shifting from 
point to point, blew with all the fury of a hur- 
ricane, and while the rain was dashed against him 
in deluges, stood hammering, calling, and roar- 
ing at the door of the old Place of Harfra, impa- 


tient for admittance, and at a loss to conceive any 
position of existing circumstances, which could oc- 
casion the exclusion of a stranger, especially du- 
ring such horrible weather. At length, finding 
his noise and vociferation were equally in vain, he 
fell back so far from the front of the house as was 
necessary to enable him to reconnoitre the chim- 
neys ; and amidst " storm and shade, 1 ' could dis- 
cover, to the increase of his dismay, that though 
noon, then the dinner hour of these islands, was 
now nearly arrived, there was no smoke proceed- 
ing from the tunnels of the vents to give any note 
of preparation within. 

Mordaunt's wrathful impatience was now chan- 
ged into sympathy and alarm ; for so long accus- 
tomed to the exuberant hospitality of the Zet- 
land islands, he was immediately induced to sup- 
pose some strange and unaccountable disaster had 
befallen the family, and forthwith set himself to 
discover some place at which he could make for- 
cible entry, in order to ascertain the situation of 
the inmates, as much as to obtain shelter from the 
still increasing storm. His present anxiety was, 
however, as much thrown away as his late clamor- 


ous importunities for admittance had been. Trip- 
tolemus and his sister had heard the whole alarm 
without, and had already had a sharp dispute on 
the propriety of opening the door. 

Mrs Baby, as we have described her, was no 
willing renderer of the rites of hospitality. In 
their farm of Cauldshouthers, in the Mearns, she 
had been the dread and abhorrence of all gaber- 
lunzie men, and travelling packmen, gypsies, long 
remembered beggars, and so forth ; nor was there 
one of them so wily, as she used to boast, as could 
ever say they had heard the clink of her sneck. 
In Zetland, where the new settlers were yet stran- 
gers to the extreme honesty and simplicity of all 
classes, suspicion and fear joined with frugality in 
her desire to exclude all wandering guests of un- 
certain character; and the second of these mo- 
tives had its effect on Triptolemus himself, who, 
though neither suspicious nor penurious, knew 
good people were scarce, good farmers scarcer, 
and had a reasonable share of that wisdom which 
looks towards self-preservation as the first law of 
nature. These hints may serve as a commentary 
on the following dialogue which took place be- 
twixt the brother and sister. 


" Now good be gracious to us," said Triptole- 
mus, as he sate thumbing his old school-copy of 
Virgil, " here is a pure day for the bear seed ! — 
Well spoke the wise Mantuan — ventis surgenti- 
bus — and then the groans of the mountains, and 
the long resounding shores — but where's the woods, 
Baby ? tell me, I say, where we shall find the ne- 
morum murmur, sister Baby, in these new seats 
of ours ?" 

" What's your foolish will ?" said Baby, pop- 
ping her head from out of a dark recess in the 
kitchen, where she was busy about some name- 
less deed of housewifery. 

Her brother, who had addressed himself to her 
more from habit than intention, no sooner saw her 
sharp red nose, keen grey eyes, with the sharp 
features thereunto conforming, shaded by the 
flaps of the loose toy which depended on each side 
of her eager face, than he bethought himself that 
his query was like to find little acceptation from 
her, and therefore stood another volley before he 
would resume the topic. 

" I say, Mr Yellowley," said sister Baby, co- 
ming into the middle of the room, " what for are 


ye crying on me, and me in the midst of my 
housewife skep ?" 

" Nay, for nothing at all, Baby," answered 
Triptolemus, " saving that I was saying to my- 
self, that here we had the sea, and the wind, and 
the rain sufficient enough, but whereas the wood ? 
where's the wood, Baby, answer me that ?" 

" The wood ?" answered Baby — " Were I no 
to take better care of the wood than you, brother, 
there would soon be no more wood about the town 
than the barber's block that's on your own should- 
ers, Triptolemus. If ye be thinking of the wreck- 
wood that the callants brought in yesterday, there 
was six unces of it gaed to boil your parritch this 
morning ; though, I trow, a carefu 1 man wad have 
ta'en drammock, if breakfast he behoved to have, 
rather than waste baith meltith and fuel in the 
same morning." 

" That is to say, Baby," replied Triptolemus, 
who was somewhat of a dry joker in his way, 
" that when we have fire we are not to have 
food, and when we have food we are not to have 
fire, these being too great blessings to enjoy both 
in the same day. Good luck, you do not propose 



we should starve with cold and starve with hun- 
ger unico contextu. But to tell you the truth, 
I could never away with raw oatmeal, slockened 
with water, in all my life. Call it drammock, or 
crowdie, or just what ye list, my vivers must 
thole fire and water." 

" The mair gowk you,'" said Baby ; " can ye 
not make your brose of the Sunday, and sup 
them cauld on the Monday, since ye're sae dainty ? 
Mony is the fairer face than yours that has lick- 
ed the lip after such a cogfuV 

" Mercy on us, sister !" said Triptolemus ; 
" at this rate, it's a finished field with me — I 
must unyoke the pleugh, and lie down to wait 
for the dead-thraw. Here is that in this house 
wad hold all Zetland in meal for a twelvemonth, 
and ye grudge a cogfu' of warm parritch to me, 
that has sic a charge." 

" Whisht — hold your silly clavering tongue," 
said Baby, looking round with apprehension — 
" ye are a wise man to speak of what is in the 
house, and a fitting man to have the charge of 
it. — Hark, as I live by bread, I hear a tapping 
at. the outer yett." 



w Go and open it then, Baby," said her bro- 
ther, glad at any thing that promised to interrupt 
the dispute. 

" Go and open it, said he 7" echoed Baby, half 
angry, half frightened, and half triumphant, at 
the superiority of her understanding over that of 
her brother — " Go and open it, said you, indeed? 
— is it to lend robbers a chance to take all that is 
in the house ?" 

" Robbers !" echoed Triptolemus in his turn ; 
" there are no more robbers in this country than 
there are lambs at Youle. I tell you, as I have 
told you an hundred times, there are no High- 
landmen to harry us here. This is a land of 
quiet and honesty. Ofortunati nimium !" 

" And what good is Saint Rinian to do ye, 
Tolemus ?" said his sister, mistaking the quota- 
tion for a Catholic invocation. " Besides, if there 
be no Highlandmen, there may be as bad. I saw 
sax or seven as ill-looking chields gang past the 
place yesterday, as ever came frae beyont Cloch- 
na-ben ; illfa'red tools they had in their hands, 
whaaling knives they ca'ed them, but they looked 
as like whingers as ae bit aim can look like an- 

VOL. I. g 


ither. There is nae honest men carry siccan 

Here the knocking and shouts of Mordaunt 
were very audible betwixt every swell of the hor- 
rible blast which was careering without. The 
brother and sister looked at each other in real 
perplexity and fear. " If they have heard of the 
siller, 1 ' said Baby, her very nose changing with 
termor from red to blue, " we are but gane folks." 

" Who speaks now, when they should hold 
their peace ?" said Triptolemus. " Go to the 
shot-window instantly, and see how many there 
are of them, while I load the old Spanish-barrelled 
duck-gun — go as if you were stepping on new- 
laid eggs."" 

Baby crept to the window, and reported that 
she saw only " one young chield, clattering and 
roaring as gin he were daft. How many there 
might be out of sight, she could not say." 

66 Out of sight ! — nonsense," said Triptolemus, 
laying aside the ramrod with which he was load- 
ing the piece, with a trembling hand. " I will 
warrant them out of sight and hearing both — this 
is some poor fellow catched in the tempest, wants 


the shelter of our roof, and a little refreshment. 
Open the door, Baby, it's a Christian deed.'" 

" But is it a Christian deed of him to come in 
at the window then ?" said Baby, setting up a 
most doleful shriek, as Mordaunt Mertoun, who 
had forced open one of the windows, leaped down 
into the apartment, dripping with water like a 
river god. Triptolemus, in great tribulation, 
presented the gun which he had not yet loaded, 
while the intruder exclaimed, " Hold, hold — 
what the devil mean you by keeping your doors 
bolted in weather like this, and levelling your gun 
at folk's heads as you would at a sealgrTs ?" 

" And who are you, friend, and what want 
you ?" said Triptolemus, lowering the butt of his 
gun to the floor as he spoke, and so recovering 
his arms. 

" What do I want !" said Mordaunt ; " I 
want every thing — I want meat, drink, and fire, 
a bed for the night, and a sheltie for to-morrow 
morning to carry me to Jarlshof." 

" And you said there were nae caterans or 
sorners here ?" said Baby to the agriculturist, re- 
proachfully. " Heard ye ever a breekless loon 

100 THE PrRATE. 

frae Lochaber tell his mind and his errand mair 
deftly ? — Come, come, friend," she added, ad- 
dressing herself to Mordaunt, " put up your 
pipes and gang your gait ; this is the house of his 
Lordship's factor, and no place of resett for thig- 
gers or sorners." 

Mordaunt laughed in her face at the simpli- 
city of the request. " Leave built walls," he said, 
" and in such a tempest as this ? What take you 
me for ? — a gannet or a scarf do you think I 
am, that your clapping your hands and skirling at 
me like a mad woman, should drive me from the 
shelter into the storm ?" 

" And so you propose, young man,'" said Trip- 
tolemus, gravely, " to stay in my house, volens 
nolens — that is, whether we will or no ?" 

" Will !" said Mordaunt ; " what right have 
you to will any thing about it ? Do you not hear 
the thunder ? Do you not hear the rain ? Do 
you not see the lightning ? And do you not 
know this is the only house within I wot not how 
many miles ? Come, my good master and dame, 
this may be Scottish jesting, but it sounds strange 
in Zetland ears. You have let out the fire too, 


and my teeth are dancing a jig in my head with 
cold ; but 111 soon put that to rights." 

He seized the fire-tongs, raked together the 
embers upon the hearth, broke up into life the 
gathering-peat which the hostess had calculated 
should have preserved the seeds of fire, without 
giving them forth, for many hours ; then casting 
his eye round, saw in a corner the stock of drift- 
wood, which Mistress Baby had served forth by 
ounces, and transferred two or three logs of it at 
once to the hearth, which, conscious of such un- 
wonted supply, began to transmit to the chimney 
such a smoke as had not issued from the Place of 
Harfra for many a day. 

While their uninvited guest was thus making 
himself at home, Baby kept edging and jogging 
the factor to turn out the intruder. But for this 
undertaking, Triptolemus Yellowley felt neither 
courage nor zeal, nor did circumstances seem at 
all to warrant the favourable conclusion of any 
fray in which he might enter with the young 
stranger. The sinewy limbs and graceful form 
of Mordaunt Mertoun were seen to great advan- 


tage in his simple sea-dress ; and with his dark 
sparkling eye, finely formed head, animated fea- 
tures, close curled dark hair, and bold free looks, 
the stranger formed a very strong contrast with 
the host on whom he had intruded himself. Trip- 
tolemus was a short, clumsy, duck-legged dis- 
ciple of Ceres, whose bottle-nose, turned up and 
handsomely coppered at the extremity, seemed 
to intimate something of an occasional treaty with 
Bacchus. It was like to be no equal mellay be- 
twixt persons of such unequal form and strength ; 
and the difference betwixt twenty and fifty years 
was nothing in favour of the weaker party. Be- 
sides, the factor was an honest good-natured fel- 
low at bottom, and being soon satisfied that his 
guest had no other views than those of obtaining 
refuge from the storm, it would, despite his sis- 
ter's instigations, have been his last act to deny 
a boon so reasonable and necessary to a youth 
whose exterior was so prepossessing. He stood, 
therefore, considering how he could most grace- 
fully glide into the character of the hospitable 
landlord, out of that of the churlish defender of 


his domestic castle, against an unauthorized in- 
trusion, when Baby, who had stood appalled at 
the extreme familiarity of the stranger's address 
and demeanour, now spoke up for herself. " My 
troth, lad," said she to Mordaunt, " ye are no 
blate, to light on at that rate, and the best of 
wood too — nane of your sharney peats, but good 
aik timber, nae less maun serve ye !" 

" You come lightly by it, dame," said Mor- 
daunt, carelessly ; " and you should not grudge 
the fire what the sea gives you for nothing. — 
These good ribs of oak did their last duty upon 
earth and ocean when they could hold no longer 
together under the brave hearts that manned the 

" And that's true, too,"" said the old woman, 
softening — " this maun be awsome weather by 
sea. Sit down and warm ye, since the sticks are 

" Ay, ay," said Triptolemus, " it is a plea- 
sure to see siccan a bonny bleeze. I have na seen 
the like o't since I left Cauldacres." 

" And shall na see the like o't again in a hur- 


ry," said Baby, " unless the house take fire, or 
there suld be a coal-heugh found out." 

" And wherefore should not there be a coal- 
heugh found out ?" said the factor, triumphantly 
— " I say, wherefore should not a coal-heugh be 
found out in Zetland as well as in Fife, now that 
the Chamberlain has a far-sighted and discreet 
man upon the spot to make the necessary per- 
quisitions ? They are baith fishing-stations, I 

" I tell you what it is, Tolemus Yellowley," 
answered his sister, who had practical reasons to 
fear of her brother's opening upon any false 
scent, M if you promise my Lord sae mony of 
these bonnie wallies, we'll no be weel hafted here 
before we are found out and set a trotting again. 
If ane was to speak to ye about a gold mine, I 
ken weel wha would promise he suld have Por- 
tugal pieces clinking in his pouch before the year 
gaed by." 

* And why suld I not ?" said Triptolemus — 
" may be your head does not know there is a 
land in Orkney called Ophir, or something very 


like it ; and wherefore might not Solomon, the 
wise king of the Jews, have sent thither his ships 
and his servants for four hundred and fifty ta- 
lents ? I hope he knew best where to go or send, 
and I hope you believe in your Bible, Baby ?" 

Baby was silenced by an appeal to Scripture, 
however mal-a-propos, and only answered by an 
inarticulate humph of incredulity or scorn, while 
her brother went on addressing Mordaunt.— 
" Yes, you shall all of you see what a change 
shall coin introduce, even into such an unpropi- 
tious country as yours. Ye have not heard of cop- 
per, I warrant, or of iron-stone, in these islands 
neither ?" Mordaunt said he had heard there was 
copper near the Cliffs of Konigsburgh. " Ay, 
and a copper scum is found on the Loch of Swa- 
na too, young man. But the youngest of you, 
doubtless, thinks himself a match for such as I 

Baby, who during all this while had been close- 
ly and accurately reconnoitering the youth's per- 
son, now interposed in a manner by her brother 
totally unexpected. *• Ye had mair need, Mr 
Yellowley, to give the young man some dry 


clothes, and to see about getting something for 
him to eat, than to sit there bleezing away with 
your lang tales, as if the weather were not windy 
enow without your help; and maybe the lad would 
drink some bland, or sicklike, if ye had the grace 
to ask him. ,, 

While Triptolemus stood astonished at such a 
proposal, considering the quarter it came from, 
Mordaunt answered, he " would be very glad to 
have dry clothes, but begged to be excused from 
drinking until he had eaten somewhat." 

Triptolemus accordingly conducted him into 
another apartment, and accommodating him with 
a change of dress, left him to his arrangements, 
while he himself returned to the kitchen, much 
puzzled to account for his sister's unusual fit of 
hospitality. " She must he fey"* he said, " and 
in that case has not long to live, and though I fall 
heir to her tocher-good, I am sorry for it ; for she 

* When a person changes his condition suddenly, as 
when a miser becomes liberal, or a churl good-humoured, 
he is said, in Scots, to be fey ; that is, predestined to 
speedy death, of which such mutations of humour are re- 
ceived as a sure indication. 


has held the house-gear well together — drawn the 
girth over tight it may be now and then, but the 
saddle sits the better. 1 " 

When Triptolemus returned to the kitchen, 
he found his suspicions confirmed, for his sister 
was in the desperate action of consigning to the 
pot a smoked goose, which, with others of the 
same tribe, had long hung in the large chimney, 
muttering to herself at the same time, — " It 
maun be eaten sune or syne, and what for no by 
the puir callant" 

" What is this of it, sister ?" said Triptole- 
mus. w You have on the girdle and the pot at 
ance. What day is this wi 1 you ?" 

" E^n such a day as the Israelites had beside 
the flesh-pots of Egypt, billie Triptolemus ; but 
ye little ken wha ye have in your house this bless- 
ed day." 

" Troth, and little I do ken," said Triptole- 
mus, " as little as I would ken the naig I never 
saw before. I would take the lad for a yagger, 
but he has rather ower good havings, and he 
has no pack." 


" Ye ken as little as ane of your ain bits ol* 
nout, man," retorted sister Baby ; " if ye ken na 
him, do ye ken Tronda Dronsdaughter ?" 

" Tronda Dronsdaughter F" echoed Triptole- 
mus — " how should I but ken her, when I pay 
her twal pennies Scots by the day, for working in 
the house here ? I trow she works as if the things 
burned her fingers. I had better give a Scots lass 
a groat of English siller. 1 ' 

u And that's the maist sensible word ye have 
«aid this blessed morning. — Weel, but Tronda 
kens this lad weel, and she has often spoke to me 
about him. They call his father the Silent Man 
of Sumburgh, and they say he's uncanny ." 

" Hout, hout — nonsense, nonsense — they are 
aye at sic trash as that," said the brother, " when 
you want a day's wark out of them — they have 
stepped ower the tangs, or they have met an un- 
canny body, or they have turned about the boat 
against the sun, and then there's nought to be 
done that day." 

" Weel, weel, brother, ye are so wise," said 
Baby, " because ye knapped Latin at Saint An- 


drews ; and can your lair tell me then what the 
lad has round his halse ?" 

" A Barcelona napkin, as wet as a dishclout, 
and I have just lent him one of my own over- 
lay s," said Triptolemus. 

" A Barcelona napkin !" said Baby, elevating 
her voice, and then suddenly lowering it, as from 
apprehension of being overheard — " I say a gold 

" A gold chain !" said Triptolemus. 

" In troth is it, hinny ; and how like you that ? 
The folk say here, as Tronda tells me, that the 
King of the Drows gave it to his father, the Si- 
lent Man of Sumburgh." 

" I wish you would speak sense, or be the si- 
lent woman,' 1 said Triptolemus. " The upshot 
of it all is, then, that this lad is the rich stran- 
ger's son, and that you are giving him the goose 
you were to keep till Michaelmas."" 

" Troth, brother, we maun do something for 
God's sake, and to make friends ; and the lad," 
added Baby, (for even she was not altogether 
above the prejudices of her sex in favour of out- 
ward form,) " has a fair face of his aim" 


" Ye would have let many a fair face," said 
Triptolemus, " pass the door pining, if it had not 
been for the gold chain. 1 ' 

" Nae doubt, nae doubt,'" replied Barbara ; 
" ye wad not have me waste our substance on 
every thigger or sorner that has the luck to come 
by the door in a wet day ? but this lad has a fair 
and a wide name in the country, and Tronda says 
he is to be married to a daughter of the rich udal- 
ler, Magnus Troil, and the marriage-day is to be 
fixed whenever he makes choice (set him up) be- 
tween the twa lasses; and so it wad be as much as 
our good name, and our quiet is worth forbye, to 
let him sit unserved, although he does come un- 
sent for." 

" The best reason in life," said Triptolemus, 
" for letting a man into a house is, that you dare 
not bid him go by. However, since there is a 
man of quality amongst them, I will let him 
know whom he has to do with, in my person." 
Then advancing to the door, he exclaimed, — 
" Heus tibi, Dave P 

" Adsum" answered the youth, entering the 


" Hem !" said the erudite Triptolemus, " not 
altogether deficient in his humanities, I see. I 
will try him further. — Canst thou aught of hus- 
bandry, young gentleman ?" 

" Troth, sir, not I, 11 answered Mordaunt : " I 
have been trained to plough upon the sea, and to 
reap upon the crag." 

" Plough the sea !" said Triptolemus ; " that's 
a furrow requires small harrowing ; and for your 
harvest on the crag, I suppose you mean these 
scozcries, or whatever you call them. It is a sort 
of ingathering which the ranzelman should stop 
by the law ; nothing more likely to break an ho- 
nest man's bones. I profess I cannot see the 
pleasure men propose by dangling in a rope's- 
end betwixt earth and heaven. In my case, I 
had as lief the other end of the rope were fasten- 
ed to the gibbet ; I should be sure of not falling, 
at least." 

" Now, I would only advise you to try it," re- 
plied Mordaunt. " Trust me, the world has 
few grander sensations than when one is perched 
in mid-air between a high-browed cliff and a roar- 
ing ocean, the rope by which you are sustained 


seeming scarce stronger than a silken thread, and 
the stone on which you have one foot steadied, 
affording such a breadth as the kittywake might 
rest upon — to feel and know all this with the full 
confidence that your own agility of limb, and 
strength of head, can bring you as safe off as if 
you had the wing of the gosshawk — this is in- 
deed being almost independent of the earth you 
tread on." 

Triptolemus stared at this enthusiastic descrip- 
tion of an amusement which had so few charms 
for him; and his sister, looking at the glancing eye 
and elevated bearing of the young adventurer, 
answered, by ejaculating, " My certie, lad, but 
you are a brave chield."" 

" A brave chield !" returned Yellowley,— " I 
say a brave goose, to be flichtering and fleeing in 
the wind when he might abide upon terra Jirma ; 
but come, here's a goose that is more to the pur- 
pose, when once it is well boiled. Get us tren- 
chers and salt, Baby — but in truth it will prove 
salt enough — a tasty morsel it is ; but I think the 
Zetlanders be the only folks in the world that 
think of running such risks to catch geese, and 
then boiling them when they have done." 


" To be sure," replied his sister, (it was the 
only word they had agreed on that day,) " it 
would be an unco thing to bid ony gudewife in 
Angus or a' the Mearns boil a goose, while there 
was sic things as spits in the warld. — But wha's 
this neist ?" she added, looking towards the en- 
trance with great indignation. " My certie, open 
doors and dogs come in — and wha opened the 
door to him ?" 

" I did, to be sure," replied Mordaunt ; " you 
would not have a poor devil stand beating your 
deaf door-cheeks in weather like this? — Here goes 
something, though, to help the fire," he added, 
drawing out the sliding bar of oak with which 
the door had been secured, and throwing it on the 
hearth, whence it was snatched by Dame Baby 
in great wrath, she exclaiming at the same time, — 

" It's sea-borne timber, as there's little else 
here, and he dings it about as if it were a fir- 
clog ! — And who be you, an it please you ?" she 
added, turning to the stranger — " a very hallan- 
shaker loon, as ever crossed my twa e'en." 

" I am a j agger, if it like your ladyship," re- 
plied the uninvited guest, a stout, vulgar, little 

VOL. I. H 

114 THE HRAT£, 

man, who had indeed the humble appearance of 
a pedlar, called jagger in these islands — " never 
travelled in a waur day, or was more willing to 
get to harbourage.— Heaven be praised for fire 
and house-room P 

So saying, he drew a stool to the fire, and sate 
down without further ceremony. Dame Baby 
stared " wild as grey goss-hawk,'" and was me- 
ditating how to express her indignation in some- 
thing warmer than words, for which the boiling 
pot seemed to offer a convenient hint, when an 
old half-starved serving woman, the sharer of her 
domestic cares, who had been as yet in some re- 
mote corner of the mansion, now hobbled into 
the room, and broke out into exclamations which 
indicated some new cause of alarm. 

" O master !" and " O mistress !" were the on- 
ly sounds she could for some time articulate, and 
then followed them up with, " The best in the 
house — the best in the house — set a' on the 
board, and sl will be little aneugh — there is auld 
Noma of Fitful-head, the most fearful woman in 
all the isles P 

" Where can she have been wandering? 1 ' said 


Mordaunt, not without some apparent sympathy 
with the surprise, if not with the alarm, of the 
old domestic ; " but it is needless to ask — the 
worse the weather, the more likely is she to be a 

" What new tramper is this r" echoed the dis- 
tracted Baby, whom the quick succession of guests 
had driven well nigh crazy with vexation. " 111 
soon settle her wandering, I sail warrant, if my 
brother has but the soul of a man in him, or if 
there be a pair of jougs at Scalloway ." 

" The iron was never forged on stithy that 
would hauld her,*'' said the old maid-servant. 
" She comes — she comes — God's sake speak her 
fair and canny, or we will have a ravelled hasp 
on the yarn-windles." 

As she spoke, a woman tall enough almost to 
touch the top of the door with her cap, stepped in- 
to the room, signing the cross as she entered, and 
pronouncing, with a solemn voice, " The blessing 
of God and Saint Ronald on the open door, and 
their braid malison and mine upon close-handed 
churls F 

" And wha are ye, that are sae bauld wi" vour 


blessing and banning in other folks' houses ? 
What kind of country is this, that folks cannot 
sit quiet for an hour, and serve heaven, and keep 
their bit gear thegither, without gangrel men 
and women coming thigging and sorning ane af- 
ter another, like a string of wild-geese ?" 

This speech, the understanding reader will 
easily saddle on Mistress Baby, and what effects 
it might have produced on the last stranger, can 
only be matter of conjecture ; for the old servant 
and Mordaunt applied themselves at once to the 
party addressed, in order to deprecate her resent- 
ment ; the former speaking to her some words of 
Norse, in a tone of intercession, and Mordaunt 
saying in English, " They are strangers, Noma, 
and know not your name or qualities ; they are 
unacquainted, too, with the ways of this country, 
and therefore we must hold them excused for 
their lack of hospitality " 

" I lack no hospitality, young man, ,, said Trip- 
tolemus, H miseris succurrere disco — the goose 
that was destined to roost in the chimney till 
Michaelmas, is boiling in the pot for you ; but 
if we had twenty geese, I see we are like to find 

THE Pill ATE. 117 

mouths to eat them every feather — this must be 

kC What must be amended, sordid slave ?" said 
the stranger Noma, turning at once upon him 
with an emphasis that made him start — " What 
must be amended ? Bring hither, if thou wilt, thy 
new-fangled coulters, spades, and harrows, alter 
the implements of our fathers from the plough- 
share to the mouse-trap ; but know thou art in 
the land that was won of old by the flaxen-haired 
Kempions of the North, and leave us their hospi- 
tality at least, to shew we come of what was once 
noble and generous. I say to you beware — while 
Noma looks forth at the measureless waters, from 
the crest of Fitful-head, something is yet< left that 
resembles power of defence. If the men of Thule 
have ceased to be champions, and to spread the 
banquet for the raven, the women have not for- 
gotten the arts that lifted them of yore into queens 
and prophetesses." 

The woman who pronounced this singular ti- 
rade, was as striking in appearance as extrava- 
gantly lofty in her pretensions and in her lan- 
guage. She might well have represented on the 


stage, so far as features, voice, and stature were 
concerned, the Bonduca or Boadicea of the Bri- 
tons, or the sage Velleda, Aurinia, or any other 
fated Pythoness, who ever led to battle a tribe of 
the ancient Goths. Her features were high and 
well formed, and would have been handsome but 
for the ravages of time, and the effects of expo- 
sure to the severe weather of her country. Age, 
and perhaps sorrow, had quenched, in some de- 
gree, the fire of a dark blue eye, whose hue al- 
most approached to black, and had sprinkled 
snow on such part of her tresses as had escaped 
from under her cap, and were dishevelled by the 
rigour of the storm. Her upper garment, which 
dropped with water, was of a. coarse dark-colour- 
ed stuff, called Wadmaral, then much used in 
the Zetland islands, as also in Iceland and Nor- 
way. But as she threw this cloak back from her 
shoulders, a short jacket, of dark-blue velvet, 
stamped with figures, became visible, and the 
vest, which corresponded to it, was of crimson 
colour, and embroidered with tarnished silver. 
Her girdle was plaited with silver ornaments, 
cut into the shape of planetary signs — her blue 


apron was embroidered with similar devices, and 
covered a petticoat of crimson cloth. Strong thick 
enduring shoes, of the half-dressed leather of the 
country, were tied with straps like those of the 
Roman buskins, over her scarlet stockings. She 
wore in her belt, an ambiguous looking weapon, 
which might pass for a sacrificing knife or dag- 
ger, as the imagination of the spectator chose to 
assign to the wearer the character of a priestess 
or of a sorceress. In her hand she held a staff*, 
squared on all sides, and engraved with Runic 
characters and figures, forming one of those port- 
able and perpetual calendars which were used 
among the ancient natives of Scandinavia, and 
which, to a superstitious eye, might have passed 
for a divining rod. 

Such were the appearance, features, and attire 
of Noma of the Fitful-head, upon whom many of 
the inhabitants of the island looked with obser- 
vance, many with fear, and almost all with a sort 
of veneration. Less pregnant circumstances of sus- 
picion would, in any other part of Scotland, have 
exposed her to the investigation of those cruel in- 
quisitors, who were then often invested with the 


delegated authority of the privy-council, for the 
purpose of persecuting, torturing, and finally 
consigning to the flames, those who were accused 
of witchcraft or sorcery. But superstitions of 
this nature pass through two stages ere they be- 
come entirely obsolete. Those supposed to be 
possessed of supernatural powers, are venerated 
in the earlier stages of society. As religion and 
knowledge increase, they are first held in hatred 
and horror, and are finally regarded as impos- 
tors. Scotland was in the second state — the fear 
of witchcraft was great, and the hatred against 
those suspected of it intense. Zetland was as yet 
a little world by itself, where, among the lower 
and ruder classes, so much of the ancient north- 
ern superstition remained, as cherished the origi- 
nal veneration for those affecting supernatural 
knowledge and power over the elements, which 
made a constituent part of the ancient Scandi- 
navian creed. At least if the natives of Thule 
admitted that one class of magicians performed 
their feats by their alliance with Satan, they 
devoutly believed that others dealt with spirits of 
a different and less odious class — the ancient 


dwarfs, called, in Zetland, Trows or Drows, the 
modern fairies, and so forth. 

Among those who were supposed to be in 
league with disembodied spirits, this Noma, de- 
scended from, and representative of a family 
which had long pretended to such gifts, was so 
eminent, that the name assigned to her, which 
signifies one of those fatal sisters who weave the 
web of human fate, had been conferred in honour 
of her supernatural powers. The name by which 
she had been actually christened was carefully 
concealed by herself and her parents ; for to the 
discovery they superstitiously annexed some fa- 
tal consequences. In these times, the doubt on- 
ly occurred whether her supposed powers were 
acquired by lawful means. In our days, it would 
have been questioned whether she was an impos- 
tor, or whether her imagination was so deeply im- 
pressed with the mysteries of her supposed art, 
that she might be in some degree a believer in her 
own pretensions to supernatural knowledge. Cer- 
tain it is, that she performed her part with such 
undoubting confidence, and such striking dignity 
of look and action, and evinced, at the same time, 


such strength of language, and such energy of 
purpose, that it would have been difficult for the 
greatest sceptic to have doubted the reality of 
her enthusiasm, though he might smile at the 
pretensions to which it gave rise. 



" If, by your art, you have 

Put the wild waters in this roar, aliay them." 


The storm had somewhat relaxed its rigour 
just before the entrance of Noma, otherwise she 
must have found it impossible to travel during 
the extremity of its fury. But she had hardly 
added herself so unexpectedly to the party whom 
chance had assembled at the dwelling of Tripto- 
lemus Yellowley, when the tempest suddenly re- 
sumed its former vehemence, and raged around 
the building with a fury which made the inmates 
insensible to any thing except the risk that the old 
mansion was about to fall above their heads. 

Mistress Baby gave vent to her fears in loud 
exclamations of " the Lord guide us— this is 
surely the last day — what kind of a country of 
guisards and gyre-cailines i? this ! — and you, ye 


fool carle," she added, turning on her brother, 
for all her passions had a touch of acidity in 
them, " to quit the bonny Mearns land to come 
here, where there is naething but sturdy beggars 
and gaberlunzies within ane's house, and heaven's 
anger on the outside on't P 

" I tell you, sister Baby," answered the insult- 
ed agriculturist, " that all shall be reformed and 
amended, excepting," he added betwixt his teeth, 
" the scaulding humours of an ill-natured jaud, 
that can add bitterness to the very storm." 

The old domestic and the pedlar meanwhile 
exhausted themselves in entreaties to Noma, of 
which, as they were couched in the Norse lan- 
guage, the master of the house understood no- 

She listened to them with a haughty and un- 
moved air, and replied at length aloud, and in 
English — " I will not. What if this house be 
strewed in ruins before morning — where would 
be the world's want in the crazed projector, and 
the niggardly pinch-commons, by which it is in- 
habited ? They will needs come to reform Zetland 
customs, let them try how they like a Zetland 


storm. — You that would not perish, quit this 

The pedlar or jagger seized on his little knap- 
sack, and began hastily to brace it on his back ; 
the old maid-servant cast her cloak about her 
shoulders, and both seemed to be in the act of 
leaving the house. 

Triptolemus Yellowley, somewhat commoved 
by these appearances, asked Mordaunt, with a 
voice which faultered with apprehension, whether 
he thought there was any, that is, so very much 
danger ? 

" I cannot tell," answered the youth, " I have 
scarce ever seen such a storm. Noma can tell us 
better than any one when it will abate ; for no 
one in these islands can judge of the weather like 

" And is that all thou thinkest Noma can do ?" 
said the sybil ; " thou shalt know her powers 
are not bounded within such a narrow space. 
Hear me, Mordaunt, youth of a foreign land, 
but of a friendly heart — Doest thou quit this 
doomed mansion with those who now prepare to 
leave it ?" 


" I do not — I will not, Noma," replied Mor- 
daunt ; " I know not your motive for desiring 
me to remove, and I will not leave, upon these 
dark threats, the house in which I have been 
kindly received in such a tempest as this. If the 
owners are unaccustomed to our unlimited cus- 
toms of hospitality, I am the more obliged to 
them that they have relaxed their usages, and 
opened their doors in my behalf." 

" He is a brave lad," said Mistress Baby, whose 
superstitious feelings had been daunted by the 
threats of the supposed sorceress, and who, amidst 
her eager, narrow, and repining disposition, had 
some sparks of higher feeling, which made her 
sympathize with generous sentiments, though she 
thought it too expensive to entertain them at her 
own cost. " He is a brave lad," she again re- 
peated, " and worthy of ten geese, if I had them 
to boil for him, or roast either. M warrant him 
a gentleman's son, and no churl's blood." 

" Hear me, young Mordaunt," said Noma, 
" and depart from this house. Fate has high 
views on you — you shall not remain in this hovel 
to be crushed amid its worthless ruins, with the 


reliques of its more worthless inhabitants, whose 
life is as little to the world as the vegetation of 
the house-leek, which now grows on their thatch, 
and which shall soon be crushed amongst their 
mangled limbs." 

" I — I — I will go forth," said Yellowley, who, 
despite of his bearing himself scholarly and wise- 
ly, was beginning to be terrified for the issue of 
the adventure; for the house was old, and the 
walls rocked formidably to the blast. 

" To what purpose ?" said his sister. " I trust 
the Prince of the power of the air has not yet 
such like power over those that are made in God's 
image, that a good house should fall about our 
heads, because a randy quean (here she darted 
a fierce glance at the Pythoness) should boast us 
with her glamour, as if we were sae mony dogs 
to crouch at her bidding ?" 

" I was only wanting," said Triptolemus, 
ashamed of his motion, " to look at the bear- 
braid, which must be sair laid wi' this tempest ; 
but if this honest woman like to bide wi' us, I 
think it were best to let us a' sit doun canny the- 
gither, till it's working weather again." 


" Honest woman !" echoed Baby — " Foul war- 
lock thief — aroint ye, ye limmer !" she added, 
addressing Noma directly ; " out of an honest 
house, or, shame fa"* me, but I'll take the bittle 
to you r 

Noma cast on her a look of supreme contempt, 
then stepping to the window, seemed engaged in 
deep contemplation of the heavens, while the old 
maid-servant, Tronda, drawing close to her mis- 
tress, implored, for the sake of all that was dear 
to man or woman, " do not provoke Noma of 
Fitful-head. You have no sic woman on the 
mainland of Scotland — she can ride on one of these 
clouds as easily as man ever rode on a sheltie." 

" I shall live to see her ride on the reek of a 
fat tar-barrel," said Mistress Baby ; " and that 
will be a fit pacing palfrey for her."" 

Again Noma regarded the enraged Mrs Baby 
Yellowley with a look of that unutterable scorn 
which her haughty features could so well express, 
and moving to the window which looked to the 
north-west, from which quarter the gale seemed 
at present to blow, she stood for some time with 



her arms crossed, looking out upon the leaden- 
coloured sky, obscured as it was by the thick 
drift, which, coming on in successive gusts of 
tempest, left ever and anon sad and dreary inter- 
vals of expectation betwixt the dying and the re- 
viving blast. 

Noma regarded this war of the elements as one 
to whom their strife was familiar ; yet the stern 
serenity of her features had in it a cast of awe, 
and at the same time of authority, as the cabalist 
may be supposed to look upon the spirit he has 
evoked, and which, though he knows how to sub- 
ject him to his spell, bears still an aspect appall- 
ing to flesh and blood. The attendants stood by 
in different attitudes, expressive of their various 
feelings. Mordaunt, though not indifferent to 
the risk in which they stood, was more curious 
than alarmed. He had heard of Noma's alleged 
power over the elements, and now expected an op- 
portunity of judging for himself of its reality. 
Triptolemus Yellowley was confounded at what 
seemed to be far beyond the bounds of hi6 philo- 
sophy ; and, if the truth must be spoken, the 
worthy agriculturist was far more frightened than 

VOL. I. I 


curious. His sister was not in the least curious 
on the subject ; but it was difficult to say whether 
anger or fear predominated in her sharp eyes and 
thin compressed lips. The pedlar and old Tron- 
da, confident that the house would never fall 
while the redoubted Noma was beneath its roof, 
held themselves ready for a start the instant she 
should take her departure. 

Having looked on the sky for some time in a 
fixed attitude, and with the most profound si- 
lence, Noma at once, yet with a slow and majes- 
tic gesture, extended her staff of black oak to- 
wards that part of the heavens from which the 
blast came hardest, and in the midst of its fury 
chaunted a Norwegian invocation, still preserved 
in the Island of Unst, under the name of the 
Song of the Reim-kennar, though some call it the 
Song of the Tempest. The following is a free 
translation, it being impossible to render literally 
many of the eliptical and metaphorical terms of 
expression peculiar to the ancient Northern poe- 
try :— 

" Stern eagle of the far north-west., 
Thou that nearest in thy grasp the thunderbolt, 


Thou whose rushing pinions stir ocean to madness, 

Thou the destroyer of herds, thou the scatterer of navies, 

Amidst the scream of thy rage, 

Amidst the rushing of thy onward wings, 

Though thy scream be loud as the cry of a perishing na- 

Though the rushing of thy wings be like the roar of ten 
thousand waves, 

Yet hear, in thine ire and thy haste, 

Hear thou the voice of the Reim-kennar. 


" Thou hast met the pine-trees of Drontheim, 

Their dark-green heads lie prostrate beside their uproot- 
ed stems ; 

Thou hast met the rider of the ocean, 

The tall, the strong bark of the fearless rover, 

And she has struck to thee the topsail 

That she had not veiTd to a royal armada ; 

Thou hast met the tower that bears its crest among the 

The battled massive tower of the Jarl of former days, 

And the cope-stone of the turret 

Is lying upon its hospitable hearth ; 

But thou too shalt stoop, proud compeller of clouds, 

When thou hearest the voice of the Reim-kennar. 

" There are verses that can stop the stag in the forest, 
Ay, and when the dark- coloured dog is opening on his 

track ; 
There are verses can make the wild hawk pause on the 


13% THE riKATE. 

Like the falcon that wears the hood and the jesses, 
And who knows the shrill whistle of the fowler ; 
Thou who canst mock at the scream of the drowning ma- 
And the crash of the ravaged forest, 
And the groan of the overwhelmed crowds, 
When the church hath fallen in the moment of prayer, 
There are sounds which thou also must list, 
When they are chaunted by the voice of the Reim-kennar. 


a Enough of woe hast thou wrought on the ocean, 
The widows wring their hands on the beach ; 
Enough of woe hast thou wrought on the land, 
The husbandman folds his arms in despair ; 
Cease thou the waving of thy pinions, 
Let the ocean repose in her dark strength ; 
Cease thou the flashing of thine eye, 
Let the thunderbolt sleep in the armoury of Odin ; 
Be thou still at my bidding, viewless racer of the north- 
western heaven, 
Sleep thou at the voice of Noma the Reim-kennar." 

We have said that Mordaunt was naturally 
fond of romantic poetry and romantic situation ; 
it is not therefore surprising that he listened with 
interest to the wild address thus uttered to the 
wildest wind of the compass, in a tone of such 
dauntless enthusiasm. But though he had heard 
so much of the Runic rhyme and of the northern 


spell, in the country where he had so long dwelt, 
he was not on this occasion so credulous as to be- 
lieve that the tempest, which had raged so lately, 
and which was now declining, was sinking sub- 
dued before the charmed verse of Noma. Cer- 
tain it was, that the blast seemed passing away, 
and the apprehended danger was already over ; 
but it was not improbable that this issue had been 
for some time foreseen by the Pythoness, through 
signs of the weather, imperceptible to those who 
had not dwelt long in the country, or had not be- 
stowed on the meteorological phenomena the at- 
tention of a strict and close observer. Of Nor- 
na's experience he had no doubt, and that went 
a far way to explain what seemed supernatural in 
her demeanour. Yet still the noble countenance, 
half-shaded by dishevelled tresses, the air of ma- 
jesty with which, in a tone of menace as well as 
of command, she addressed the viewless spirit of 
the tempest, gave him a strong inclination to be- 
lieve in the ascendancy of the occult art over the 
powers of nature ; for, if a woman ever moved on 
earth to whom such authority over the ordinary 
laws of the universe could belong, Noma of Fit- 


ful-head, j udging from bearing, figure, and face, 
was born to that high destiny. 

The rest of the company were less slow in re- 
ceiving conviction. To Tronda and the j agger 
none was necessary ; they had long believed in 
the full extent of Noma's authority over the ele- 
ments. But Triptolemus and his sister gazed at 
each other with wondering and alarmed looks, 
especially when the wind began perceptibly to 
decline, as was especially visible during the 
pauses which Noma made betwixt the strophes of 
her incantation. A long silence followed the last 
verse, until Noma resumed her chaunt, but with 
a changed and more soothing modulation of voice 
and tune. 

" Eagle of the far north-western waters, 
Thou hast heard the voice of the Reim-kennar, 
Thou hast closed thy wide sails at her bidding, 
And folded them in peace by thy side. 
My blessing be on thy retiring path ; 
When thou stoopest from thy place on high, 
Soft be thy slumbers in the caverns of the unknown ocean, 
Rest till destiny shall again awaken thee ; 
Eagle of the north-west, thou hast heard the voice of the 


" A pretty song that would be to keep the corn 
from shaking in ha'rst," whispered the agricultu- 
rist to his sister ; " we must speak her fair, Baby 
— she will may be part with the secret for a hun- 
dred pund Scots." 

" An hundred fules 1 heads," replied Baby— 
" bid her five merks of ready siller. I never 
knew a witch in my life but she was as poor as 

Noma turned towards them as if she had guess- 
ed their thoughts ; it may be that she did so. She 
passed them with a look of the most sovereign 
contempt, and walking to the table on which the 
preparations for Mrs Barbara's frugal meal were 
already disposed, she filled a small wooden quaigh 
from an earthen pitcher which contained bland, 
a subacid liquor made out of the serous part of 
the milk. She broke a single morsel from a bar- 
ley-cake, and having eaten and drunk, returned 
towards the churlish hosts. " I give you no 
thanks," she said, " for my refreshment, for you 
bid me not welcome to it ; and thanks bestowed 
on a churl are like the dew of heaven on the cliffs 
of Foulah, where it finds nought that can be re- 


freshed by its influences. I give you no thanks," 
she said again, but drawing from her pocket a 
leathern purse that seemed large and heavy, she 
added, " I pay you with what you will value 
more than the gratitude of the whole inhabitants 
of Hialtland. Say not that Noma of Fitful-head 
hath eaten of your bread and drank of your cup, 
and left you sorrowing for the charge to which 
she hath put your house." So saying, she laid on 
the table a small piece of antique coin, bearing 
the rude and half-defaced effigies of some ancient 
northern king. 

Triptolemus and his sister exclaimed against 
this liberality with vehemence ; the first protest- 
ing that he kept no public, and the other exclaim- 
ing, " Is the carline mad ? Heard ye ever of ony 
of the gentle house of Clinkscale that gave meat 
for siller ?" 

u Or for love either," muttered her brother ; 
" haud to that, tittle." 

" What are ye whittie whattieing about, ye 
gowk," said his gentle sister, who suspected the 
tenor of his murmurs ; " gie the ladie back her 
bonie die there, and be blithe to be sae rid on t — 


it will be a sdate-stane the morn, if Dot something 

The honest factor lifted the money to return 
it, yet could not help being struck when he saw 
the impression, and his hand trembled as he 
handed it to his sister. 

•• Yes,"' said the Pythoness again, as if she 
read the thoughts of the astonished pair, " you 
have seen that coin before — beware how you use 
It thrives not wi:h the sordid or the mean- 
sou led — it was won with honourable danger, and 
must be expended with honourable hberality. 
The treasure which lies under a cold hearth will 
one day, like the bidden talent, bear witness 
against its avaricious possessors." 

This last obscure intimation seemed to raise 
the alarm and the wonder of Mrs Baby and her 
brother to the uttermost. The latter tried to stam- 
mer out something like an invitation to Noma to 
tarry with them all night, or at least to take share 
of the *• dinner." so be at first called it ; but look- 
ing at the company, and remembering the limit- 
ed contents of the pot, he corrected the phrase, 
and hoped she would take some part of the* 


which would be on the table ere a man could loose 
a pleugh." 

" I eat not here— I sleep not here," replied Nor- 
na — " nay, I relieve you not only of my own pre- 
sence, but I will dismiss your unwelcome guests. 
— Mordaunt," she added, addressing young Mer- 
toun, " the dark fit is past, and your father looks 
for you this evening. ,, 

" Do you return in that direction ?" said Mor- 
daunt. " I will but eat a morsel and give you 
my aid, good mother, on the road. The brooks 
must be out, and the journey perilous.'" 

" Our ways lie different," answered the Sy- 
bil, " and Noma needs not mortal arm to aid her 
on the way. I am summoned far to the east, by 
those who know well how to smooth my passage. 
For thee, Bryce Snailsfoot," she continued, speak- 
ing to the pedlar, " speed thee on to Sumburgh — 
the roost will afford thee a gallant harvest, and 
worthy the gathering in. Much goodly ware will 
ere now be seeking a new owner, and the careful 
skipper will sleep still enough in the deep haaf, 
andcares not that bale and kist are dashing against 
the shores." 


" Na, na, goodmother," answered Snailsfoot, 
w I desire no man's life for my private advantage, 
and am just grateful for the blessing of Provi- 
dence on my sma 1 trade. But doubtless one man's 
loss is another's gain ; and as these storms destroy 
a' thing on land, it is but fair they suld send us 
something by sea. Sae, taking the freedom, like 
yoursell, mother, to borrow a lump of barley 
bread, and a draught of bland, I will bid good 
day, and thank you, to this good gentleman and 
lady, and e'en go on my way to Jarlshof, as you 

" Ay," replied the Pythoness, " where the 
slaughter is, the eagles will be gathered; and 
where the wreck is on the shore, the jagger is as 
busy to purchase spoil as the shark to gorge up- 
on the dead." 

This rebuke, if it was intended for such, seem- 
ed above the comprehension of the travelling mer- 
chant, who, bent upon gain, assumed the knap- 
sack and ellwand, and asked Mordaunt, with the 
familiarity permitted in a wild country, whether 
he would not take company along with him. 


" I wait to eat some dinner with Mr Yellow- 
ley and Mrs Baby," answered the youth, " and 
will set forward in half an hour." 

" Then 111 just take my piece in my hand," 
said the pedlar. Accordingly he muttered a be- 
nediction, and without more ceremony, helped 
himself to what, in Mrs Baby's covetous eyes, ap- 
peared to be two- thirds of the bread, took a long 
pull at the jug of bland, seized on a handful of 
the small fish called sillochs, which the domestic 
was just placing on the board, and left the room 
without farther ceremony. 

ce My certie," said the despoiled Mrs Baby, 
" there is the chapman's drouth and his hunger 
baith, as folks say. If the laws against vagrants 
be executed this gate — It's no that I wad shut 
the door against decent folks," she said, looking 
to Mordaunt, " more especially in such judge- 
ment-weather. But I see the goose is dished, 
poor thing." 

This she spoke in a tone of affection for the 
smoked goose, which, though it had long been an 
inanimate inhabitant of her chimney, was far more 
interesting to Mrs Babv in that state, than when 

THE PI K AT It. 141 

it screamed amongst the clouds. Mordaunt laugh- 
ed and took his seat, then turned to look for Nor- 
na, but she had glided from the apartment du- 
ring the discussion with the pedlar. 

" I am glad she is gane, the dour car line," 
said Mrs Baby, " though she has left that piece 
of gowd to be an everlasting shame to us." 

" Whisht, mistress, for the love of heaven," 
said Tronda Dronsdaughter ; " wha kens where 
she may be this moment— we are no sure but she 
may hear us, though we cannot see her.'" 

Mistress Baby cast a startled eye around, and 
instantly recovering herself, for she was natural- 
ly courageous as well as violent, she said, " I 
bid aroint her before, and I bid her aroint again, 
whether she sees me or hears me, or whether she's 
ower the cairn and awa. — And you, ye silly 
sumph," she said to poor Yellowley, " what do 
ye stand glowering there for ? — You a Saunt An- 
drew student ! — you studied lair and Latin huma- 
nities, as ye call them, and daunted wi 1 the cla- 
vers of an auld randie wife ! Say your best col- 
lege grace, man, and witch, or nae witch, we'll eat 
our dinner and defy her. And for the value of 


the gowden piece, it shall never be said I pouch- 
ed her siller. I will gie it to some poor body 
— that is, I will test upon it at my death, and 
keep it for a purse-penny till that day comes, and 
that's no using it in the way of spending-siller. 
Say your best college grace, man, and let us eat 
and drink in the meantime." 

" Ye had muckle better say an oraamus to 
Saint Ronald, and fling a sixpence ower your left 
shouther, master," said Tronda. 

" That ye may pick it up, ye jaud," said the 
implacable Mistress Baby ; " it will be lang or 
ye win the worth of it ony other gate. — Sit down, 
Triptolemus, and mind na the words of a daft 

" Daft or wise," replied Yellowley, very much 
disconcerted, " she kens more than I would wish 
she kend. It was awfu' to see sic a wind fa' at 
the voice of flesh and blood like oursells— and 
then yon about the hearth-stane — I cannot but 

" If ye cannot but think," said Mistress Ba- 
by, very sharply, " at least ye can haud your 


The agriculturist made no reply, but sate 
down to their scanty meal, and did the honours 
of it with unusual heartiness to his new guest, 
the first of the intruders who had arrived, and 
the last who left them. The sillochs speedily dis- 
appeared, and the smoked goose, with its append- 
ages, took wing so effectually, that Tronda, to 
whom the polishing of the bones had been des- 
tined, found the task accomplished, or nearly so, 
to her hand. After dinner, the host produced his 
bottle of brandy, but Mordaunt, whose general 
habits were as sober almost as those of his father, 
laid a very light tax upon this unusual exertion 
of hospitality. 

During the meal, they learned so much of 
young Mordaunt, and of his father, that even 
Baby resisted his wish to re-assume his wet gar- 
ments, and pressed him (at the risk of an expen- 
sive supper being added to the charges of the day) 
to tarry with them till the next morning. But 
what Noma had said excited the youth's wish to 
reach home, nor, however far the hospitality of 
Stourburgh was extended in his behalf, did the 
house present any particular temptations to in- 

144 THE I'Ut AT K. 

duce him to remain there longer. He therefore 
accepted the loan of the factor's clothes, promised 
to return them, and send for his own ; and took 
a civil leaving of his host and Mistress Baby, 
the latter of whom, however affected by the loss 
of her goose, could not but think the cost well 
bestowed (since it was to be expended at all) up- 
on so handsome and cheerful a youth. 

the pirate; ] 15 


She does no work by halves, yon raving ocean; 
Engulphing those she strangles, her wild womb 
Affords the mariners whom she hath dealt on, 
Their death at once, and sepulchre. 

Old Play. 

There were ten " lang Scots miles" betwixt 
Stourburgh and Jarlshof ; and though the pedes- 
trian did not number all the impediments which 
crossed Tarn o^ Shanter's path, — for, in a coun- 
try where there are neither hedges nor stone ill- 
closures, there can be neither " slaps nor stiles," — 
yet the number and nature of the u waters and 
mosses" which he had to cross in his peregrina- 
tion, was fully sufficient to balance the account, 
and to render his journey as toilsome and dan- 
gerous as that of the celebrated retreat from 
Ayr. Neither witch nor warlock, crossed Mor- 
daunfs path, however. The length of the day 

VOL. I. K 


was already considerable, and he arrived safe at 
Jarlshof by eleven o'clock at night. All was still 
and dark around the mansion, and it was not till 
he had whistled twice or thrice beneath Swertha's 
window, that she replied to the signal. 

At the first sound, Swertha fell into an agree- 
able dream of a young whale-fisher, who some 
forty years since used to make such a signal be- 
neath the window of her hut ; at the second, she 
waked to remember that Johnnie Fea slept sound 
amongst the frozen waves of Greenland for this 
many a year, and that she was Mr Mertoun's 
gouvernante at Jarlshof; at the third, she arose 
and opened the window. 

" Whae is that," she demanded, " at sic an 
hour of the night ?" 

" It is I," said the youth. 

" And what for come na ye in ? The door's on 
the latch, and there is a gathering peat on the 
kitchen fire, and a spunk beside it — ye can light 
your ain candle."" 

" All well," replied Mordaunt ; " but I want 
to know how my father is." 


" Just in his ordinary, glide gentleman— ask- 
ing for you, Master Mordaunt; ye are owre far 
and ower late in your walks, young gentleman.'" 

" Then the dark hour has passed, Swertha ?" 

" In troth has it, Master Mordaunt,"" answered 
the gouvernante ; " and your father is very rea- 
sonably good-natured for him, poor gentleman. 
I spake to him twice yesterday without his speak- 
ing first ; and the first time he answered me as 
civil as you could do, and the neist time he bade 
me no plague him ; and then, thought I, three 
times were aye canny, so I spake to him again for 
luckVsake, and he called me a chattering old 
devil, but it was quite and clean in a civil sort of 

" Enough, enough, Swertha," answered Mor- 
daunt ; " and now get up and find me something 
to eat, for I have dined but poorly." 

" Then you have been at the new folks at 
Stourburgh ? for there is no another house in a 1 
the Isles but they wad hae gi'en ye the best share 
of the best they had. Saw ye ought of Noma of 
the Fitful-head ? She went to Stourburgh this 
morning, and returned to the town at night." 


M Returned ! — then she is here. How eoiild 
she travel three leagues and better in so short a 
time r 

" Wha kens how she travels," replied Swer- 
tha ; " but I heard her tell the Ranzelman wi 1 
my ain lugs, that she intended that day to have 
gone on to Burgh-Westra, to speak with Minna 
Troil, but she had seen that at Stourburgh (in- 
deed she said at Harfra, for she never calls it by 
the other name of Stourburgh,) that sent her back 
to our town. But gang your ways round, and 
ye shall have plenty of supper — ours is nae toom 
pantry, and still less a locked ane, though my 
master be a stranger, and no just that tight in 
the upper rigging, as the Ranzelman says." 

Mordaunt walked round to the kitchen accord- 
ingly, where Swertha's care speedily accommo- 
dated him with a plentiful, though coarse meal, 
which indemnified him for the scanty hospitality 
he had experienced at Stourburgh. 

In the morning, some feelings of fatigue made 
young Mertoun later than usual in leaving his 
bed ; so that, contrary to what was the ordinary 
case, he found his father in the apartment where 


they eat, and which served them indeed for every 
common purpose, save that of a bed-chamber or 
of a kitchen. The son greeted the father in mute 
reverence, and waited until he should addresshim. 

" You were absent yesterday, Mordaunt,' 11 
said his father. Mordaunt's absence had lasted 
a week and more; but he had often observed that 
his father never seemed to notice how time passed 
during the time he was affected with his sullen 
vapours. He assented to what the elder Mr Mer- 
toun had said. 

" And you were at Burgh- Westra, as I think,'' 
continued his father. 

" Yes, sir, ,, replied Mordaunt. 

The elder Mertoun was then silent for some 
time, and paced the floor in deep silence, with an 
air of sombre reflection, which seemed as if he was 
about to relapse into his moody fit. Suddenly 
turning to his son, however, he observed, in the 
tone of a query, " Magnus Troil has two daugh- 
ters — they must be now young women ; they are 
thought handsome, of course ?" 

" Very generally, sir," answered Mordaunt, 
rather surprised to hear his father making any 


inquiries about the individuals of a sex which 
he usually thought so light of, a surprise which 
was much increased by the next question, put as 
abruptly as the former. 

" Which think you the handsomest ?" 
" I sir ?" replied his son with some wonder, 
but without embarrassment — " I really am no 
judge — I never considered which was absolutely 
the handsomest. They are both very pretty 
young women. 1 ' 

" You evade my question, Mordaunt ; perhaps 
I have some very particular reason for my wish 
to be acquainted with your taste in this matter. 
I am not used to waste words for no purpose. I 
ask you again, which of Magnus Troll's daugh- 
ters you think most handsome ?" 

" Really, sir," replied Mordaunt — " but you 
only jest in asking me such a question." 

" Young man," replied Mertoun, with eyes 
which began to roll and sparkle with impatience, 
" I never jest. I desire an answer to my ques- 

" Then, upon my word, sir," said Mordaunt, 
" it is not in my power to form a judgment be- 


twixt the young ladies — they are both very pretty, 
but by no means like each other. Minna is dark- 
haired, and more grave than her sister — more se- 
rious, but by no means either dull or sullen.*" 

" Um," replied his father ; " you have been 
gravely brought up, and this Minna, I suppose, 
pleases you most ?" 

" No, sir, really I can give her no preference 
over her sister Brenda, who is as gay as a lamb 
in a spring morning — less tall than her sister, but 
so well formed, and so excellent a dancer'''' 

" That she is best qualified to amuse the young 
man who has a dull home and a moody father,'" 
said Mr Mertoun. 

Nothing in his father's conduct had ever sur- 
prised Mordaunt so much as the obstinacy with 
which he seemed to pursue a theme so foreign to 
his general train of thought, and habits of con- 
versation ; but he contented himself with answer- 
ing once more, u that both the young ladies were 
highly admirable, but he had never thought of 
them with the wish to do either injustice by 
ranking her lower than her sister — that others 


would probably decide between them as they hap- 
pened to be partial to a grave or a gay disposi- 
tion, or to a dark or fair complexion ; but that 
he could see no excellent quality in the one that 
was not balanced by something equally captiva- 
ting in the other."" 

It is possible that even the coolness with which 
Mordaunt made this explanation might not have 
satisfied his father concerning the subject of inves- 
tigation ; but Swertha at this moment entered 
with breakfast, and the youth, notwithstanding 
his late supper, engaged in that meal with an air 
which satisfied Mertoun that he held it matter 
of more grave importance than the conversation 
which they had just held, and that he had nothing 
more to say upon the subject explanatory of the 
answers he had already given. He shaded his brow 
with his hand, and looked long fixedly upon the 
young man as he was busied with his morning 
meal. There was neither abstraction nor a sense 
of being observed in any of his motions ; all was 
frank, natural, and open. 

" He is fancy-free," muttered Mertoun to him- 


self — " so young, so lively, and so imaginative, 
so handsome and so attractive in face and person, 
strange, that at his age, and in his circumstances, 
he should have avoided the meshes which catch 
all the world beside.'" 

When the breakfast was over, the elder Mer- 
toun, instead of proposing, as usual, that his son, 
who awaited his commands, should betake him- 
self to one branch or other of his studies, assumed 
his hat and staff, and desired that Mordaunt 
should accompany him to the top of the cliff, 
called Sumburgh-head, and from thence look out 
upon the state of the ocean, agitated as it must 
still be by the tempest of the preceding day. 
Mordaunt was at the age when young men will- 
ingly exchange sedentary pursuits for active ex- 
ercise, and started up with alacrity to comply 
with his father's request ; and in the course of a 
few minutes they were mounting together the hill, 
which, ascending from the land side in a long, 
steep, and grassy slope, sinks at once from the 
summit to the sea in an abrupt and tremendous 

The day was delightful; there was just so 


much motion in the air as to disturb the little 
fleecy clouds which were scattered on the hori- 
zon, and by floating them occasionally over the 
sun, to chequer the landscape with that variety 
of light and shade which often gives to a bare 
and unenclosed scene, for the time at least, a 
species of charm approaching to the varieties of 
a cultivated and planted country. A thousand 
flitting hues of light and shade played over the 
expanse of wild moor, rocks, and inlets, which, 
as they climbed higher and higher, spread in wide 
and wider circuit around them. 

The elder Mertoun often paused and looked 
around upon the scene, and for some time his son 
supposed that he halted to enjoy its beauties ; 
but as they ascended still higher up the hill, he 
remarked his shortened breath and his uncertain 
and toilsome step, and became assured, with some 
feelings of alarm, that his father's strength was, 
for the moment, exhausted, and that he found 
the ascent more toilsome and fatiguing than usual. 
To draw close to his side, and offer him in silence 
the assistance of his arm, was an act of youthful 
deference to advanced age, as well as of filial re- 


verence, and Mertoun seemed at first so to receive 
it, for he took in silence the advantage of the aid 
thus afforded him. 

It was but for two or three minutes, however, 
that the father availed himself of his son's sup- 
port. They had not ascended fifty yards farther 
ere he pushed Mordaunt suddenly, if not rude- 
ly, from him ; and as if stung into exertion by 
some sudden recollection, began to mount the ac- 
clivity with such long and quick paces, that Mor- 
daunt, in his turn, was obliged to exert himself 
to keep pace with him. He knew his father's pe- 
culiarity of disposition ; he was aware, from many 
slight circumstances, that he loved him not even 
while he took much pains of his education, and 
while he seemed to be the sole object of his care 
upon earth. But the conviction had never been 
more strongly or more powerfully forced upon 
him than by the hasty churlishness with which 
Mertoun rejected from a son that assistance which 
most elderly men are willing to receivefrom youths 
with whom they are but slightly connected, as a 
tribute which it is alike graceful to yield and to 


receive. Mertoun, however, did not seem to per- 
ceive the effect which his unkindness had produ- 
ced upon his son's feelings. He paused upon a 
sort of level terrace which they had now attain- 
ed, and addressed his son with an indifferent 
tone, which seemed in some degree affected. 

" Since you have so few inducements, Mor- 
daunt, to remain in these wild islands, I suppose 
you sometimes wish to look a little more abroad 
into the world ?" 

" By my word, sir," replied Mordaunt, "I can- 
not say I ever have thought on such a subject." 

" And why not, young man ?" demanded his 
father ; " it were but natural, I think, at your 
age. At your age, the fair and varied breadth of 
Britain could not gratify me, much less the com- 
pass of a sea-girdled peat-moss." 

" I have never thought of leaving Zetland, 
sir," replied the son. " I am happy here, and 
have friends. You yourself, sir, would miss me, 
unless indeed" 

" Why, thou wouldst not persuade me," said 
his father, somewhat hastily, " that you stay here, 
or desire to stay here, for the love of me ?" 


" Why should I not, sir?" answered Mor- 
daunt, mildly ; " it is my duty, and I hope I 
have hitherto performed it. 11 

" O ay," repeated Mertoun, in the same tone 
— t; your duty — your duty. So it is the duty of 
the dog to follow the groom that feeds him. 1 '' 

" And does he not do so, sir ?" said Mordaunt. 

" Ay," said his father, turning his head aside ; 
" but he fawns only on those who caress him." 

" I hope, sir," replied Mordaunt, " I have not 
been found deficient ?" 

" Say no more oivt — say no more on't," said 
Mertoun abruptly, " we have both done enough 
by each other — we must soon part — Let that be 
our comfort — if our separation should require 

u I shall be ready to obey your wishes," said 
Mordaunt, not altogether displeased at what pro- 
mised him an opportunity of looking further 
abroad into the world. " I presume it will be 
your pleasure that I commence my travels with 
a season at the whale-fishing." 

" Whale-fishing !" replied Mertoun ; " that 
were a mode indeed of seeing the world ; but 


thou speakcst but as thou hast learned. Enough 
of this for the present. Tell me where you had 
shelter from the storm yesterday ?" 

" At Stourburgh, the house of the new factor 
from Scotland." 

" A pedantic, fantastic, visionary schemer,'" 
said Mertoun — " and whom saw you there ?" 

" His sister, sir," replied Mordaunt, " and old 
Noma of the Fitful-head:' 

" What ! the mistress of the potent spell," an- 
swered Mertoun, with a sneer — " she who can 
change the wind by pulling her curch on one side, 
as King Erick used to do by turning his cap ? 
The dame journeys far from home — how fares 
she ? Does she get rich by selling favourable 
winds to those who are port-bound ?" 

" I really do not know, sir," said Mordaunt, 
whom certain recollections prevented from freely 
entering into his father's humour. 

" You think the matter too serious to be jested 
with, or perhaps esteem her merchandize too light 
to be cared after," continued Mertoun, in the 
same sarcastic tone, which was the nearest ap- 
proach he ever made to cheerfulness ; " but con- 


sider it more deeply. Every thing in the uni- 
verse is bought and sold, and why not wind, if 
the merchant can find purchasers ? The earth is 
rented from its surface down to its most central 
mines ; — the fire, and the means of feeding it, are 
currently bought and sold ;^-the wretches that 
sweep the boisterous ocean with their nets, pay 
ransom for the privilege of being drowned in it. 
What title has the air to be exempted from the 
universal course of traffic ? All above the earth, 
under the earth, and around the earth, has its 
price, its sellers, and its purchasers. In many 
countries the priests will sell you a portion of 
heaven — in all countries men are willing to buy 
in exchange for health, wealth, and peace of con- 
science, a full portion of hell. Why should not 
Noma pursue her traffic ?" 

" Nay, I know no reason against it," replied 
Mertoun ; " only I wish she would part with the 
commodity in smaller quantities. Yesterday she 
was a wholesale dealer — whoever treated with her 
had too good a pennyworth. 1 ' 

" It is even so," said the father, pausing on 
the verge of the wild promontory which they 


had attained, where the huge precipice sinks ab- 
ruptly down on the wide and tempestuous ocean, 
" and the effects are still visible." 

The face of that lofty cape is composed of the 
soft and crumbling stone called sand-flag, which 
gradually yields to the action of the atmosphere, 
and becomes split into large masses, that hang 
loose upon the verge of the precipice, and, de- 
tached from it by the fury of the tempests, of- 
ten descend with great fury to the vexed abyss 
which lashes the foot of the rock. Numbers of 
these huge fragments lie strewed beneath the rocks 
from which they have descended, and amongst 
these the tide foams and rages with a fury pecu- 
liar to these latitudes. 

At the period when Mertoun and his son look- 
ed from the verge of the precipice, the wide sea 
still heaved and swelled with the agitation of the 
yesterday's storm, which had been far too violent 
to subside speedily. The tide therefore poured 
on the headland with a fury deafening to the ear, 
and dizzying to the eye, threatening instant de- 
struction to whatever might be at the time invol- 
ved in its current. The sight of nature in her 


magnificence, or in her beauty, or in her terrors, 
has at all times an overpowering interest, which 
even habit cannot greatly weaken ; and both fa- 
ther and son sate themselves down on the cliff to 
look out upon that unbounded war of waters, 
which rolled in their wrath to the foot of the 

At once Mordaunt, whose eyes were sharper, 
and probably his attention more alert than that 
of his father, started up and exclaimed, " God in 
Heaven ! there is a vessel in the Roost." 

Mertoun looked to the north-westward, and an 
object was visible amid the rolling tide. " She 
shews no sail,'" he observed ; and immediately 
added, after looking at the object through his 
spy-glass, " She is dismasted, and lies a sheer- 
hulk upon the water."" 

" And is drifting on the Sumburgh-head, 11 
said Mordaunt, struck with horror, " without the 
slightest means of weathering the cape.'" 

" She makes no effort," replied his father ; " she 
is probably deserted by her crew. 11 

" And in such a day as yesterday, 11 replied 

VOL. I. L 


Mordaunt, " when no open boat could live were 
she manned with the best men ever handled an 
oar — all must have perished.'" 

" It is most probable,*" said his father, with stern 
composure; "and one day, sooner or later, all must 
have perished. What signifies whether the fowl- 
er, whom nothing escapes, caught them up at one 
swoop from yonder shattered deck, or whether he 
clutched them individually, as chance gave them 
to his grasp ? What signifies it ? — the deck, the 
battle-field, are scarce more fatal to us than our 
table and our bed ; and we are saved from the 
one, merely to drag out a heartless and weari- 
some existence, till we perish at the other. Would 
the hour were come — that hour which reason 
would teach us to wish for, were it not that na- 
ture has implanted the fear of it so strongly with- 
in us. You wonder at such a reflection, because 
life is yet new to you. Ere you have attained my 
age, it will be the familiar companion of your 

" Surely, sir," replied Mordaunt, " such dis- 
taste to life is not the necessary consequence of 
advanced age ?" 


" To all who have sense to estimate that which 
it is really worth," said Mertoun. " Those who, 
like Magnus Troil, possess so much of the ani- 
mal impulses about them, as to derive pleasure 
from sensual gratification, may perhaps, like the 
animals, feel pleasure in mere existence.'" 

Mordaunt liked neither the doctrine nor the 
example. He thought a man who discharged his 
duties towards others as well as the good old 
udaller, had a better right to have the sun shine 
fair on his setting, than that which he might de- 
rive from mere insensibility. But he let the sub- 
ject drop ; for to dispute with his father, had 
always the effect of irritating him ; and again he 
adverted to the condition of the wreck. 

The hulk, for it was little better, was now in 
the very midst of the current, and drifting at a 
great rate towards the foot of the precipice, upon 
whose verge they were placed. Yet it was a long 
while ere they had a distinct view of the object 
which they had at first seen as a black speck 
amongst the waters, and then at a nearer distance, 
like a whale, which now scarce shews its back-fin 
above the waves, now throws to view its huge 


black side. Now, however, they could mote dis- 
tinctly observe the appearance of the ship, for 
the huge swelling waves which bore it forward 
to the shore, heaved it alternately high upon 
the surface, and then plunged it into the trough 
or furrow of the sea. She seemed a vessel of two 
or three hundred tons, fitted up for defence, for 
they could see her port-holes. She had been dis- 
masted probably in the gale of the preceding day, 
and lay water logged on the waves, a prey to 
their violence. It appeared certain, that the crew, 
finding themselves unable either to direct the 
vessel's course, or to relieve her by pumping, 
had taken to their boats, and left her to her fate. 
All apprehensions were therefore unnecessary, so 
far as the immediate loss of human lives was con- 
cerned ; and yet it was not without a feeling of 
breathless awe that Mordaunt and his father be- 
held the vessel — that rare masterpiece by which 
human genius aspires to surmount the waves, 
and contend with the winds, upon the point of 
falling a prey to them. 

Onward it came, the large black hulk seeming 
larger at everv fathom s length. She came nearer, 


until she bestrode the summit of one tremendous 
billow, which rolled on with her unbroken, till the 
wave and its burthen were precipitated against the 
rock, and then the triumph of the elements over 
the work of human hands was at once completed. 
One wave, we have said, made the wrecked ves- 
sel completely manifest in her whole bulk, as it 
raised her, and bore her onward against the face 
of the precipice. But when that wave receded 
from the foot of the rock, the ship had ceased to 
exist ; and the retiring billow only bore back a 
quantity of beams, planks, casks, and similar ob- 
jects, which swept out to the offing, to be brought 
in again by the next wave, and again precipitated 
upon the face of the rock. 

It was at this moment that Mordaunt concei- 
ved he saw a man floating on a plank or water- 
cask, which, drifting away from the main current, 
seemed about to go a-shore upon a small spot of 
sand, where the water was shallow, and the waves 
broke more smoothly. To see the danger, and 
to exclaim, " He lives, and may yet be saved !" 
was the first impulse of the fearless Mordaunt. 
The next was, after one rapid glance at the front 


of the cliff', to precipitate himself — such seemed 
the rapidity of his movement — from the verge, and 
to commence, by means of slight fissures, projec- 
tions, and crevices in the rock, a descent, which, 
to a spectator, appeared little else than an act of 
absolute insanity. 

" Stop, I command you, rash boy," said his 
father ; " the attempt is death. Stop, and take 
the safer path to the left." But Mordaunt was 
already completely engaged in his perilous enter- 

" Why should I prevent him ?" said his fa- 
ther, checking his anxiety with the stern and un- 
feeling philosophy whose principles he had adopt- 
ed. " Should he die now, full of generous and 
high feeling, eager in the cause of humanity, hap- 
py in the exertion of his own conscious activity 
and youthful strength — should he die now, will 
he not escape misanthropy, and remorse, and age, 
and the consciousness of decaying powers, both 
of body and mind ? — I will not look upon it, how- 
ever — I will not — I cannot behold his young 
light so suddenly quenched." 


He turned from the precipice accordingly, and 
hastening to the left for more than a quarter of 
a mile, he proceeded towards a riva, or cleft in 
the rock, containing a path, called Erick's steps, 
neither safe, indeed, nor easy, but the only one 
by which the inhabitants of Jarlshof were wont, 
for any purpose, to seek access to the foot of the 

But long ere Mertoun had reached even the 
upper end of the pass, his adventurous and ac- 
tive son had accomplished his more desperate en- 
terprize. He had been in vain turned aside from 
the direct line of descent, by the intervention of 
difficulties which he had not seen from above — his 
route became only more circuitous, but could not 
be interrupted. More than once, large fragments 
to which he was about to entrust his weight, gave 
way before him, and thundered down into the tor- 
mented ocean ; and in one or two instances, such 
detached pieces of rock rushed after him, as if to 
bear him headlong in their course. A courageous 
heart, a steady eye, a tenacious hand, and a firm 
foot, carried him through his desperate attempt ; 
and in the space of seven minutes, he stood at the 

168 THE Flit ATE. 

bottom of the cliff, from the verge of which he 
had achieved his perilous descent. 

The place which he now occupied was the small 
projecting spot of stones, sand, and gravel, that 
extended a little way into the sea, which on the 
right hand lashed the very bottom of the preci- 
pice, and on the left, was scarce divided from it 
by a small wave-worn portion of beach which 
extended as far as the foot of the rent in the 
rocks called Erick's steps, by which Mordaunt's 
father proposed to descend. 

When the vessel split and went to pieces, all 
was swallowed up in the ocean, which had, after 
the first shock, been seen to float upon the waves, 
excepting only a few pieces of wreck, casks, 
chests, and the like, which a strong eddy, formed 
by the reflux of the waves, had landed, or at 
least grounded, upon the shallow where Mor- 
daunt now stood. Amongst these, his eager eye 
discovered the object which had at first engaged 
his attention, and which now, seen at nigher dis- 
tance, proved to be in truth a man, and in a 
most precarious state. His arms were still wrapt 
with a close and convulsive grasp round the 


plank to which he had clung, in the moment of 
the shock, but sense and the power of motion 
were fled ; and, from the situation in which the 
plank lay, partly grounded upon the beach, part- 
ly floating in the sea, there was every chance 
that it might be again washed off shore, in which 
case the man's death was inevitable. Just as he 
had made himself aware of these circumstances, 
Mordaunt beheld a huge wave advancing, and 
hastened to interpose his aid ere it burst, aware 
that the reflux might probably sweep away the 

He rushed into the surf and fastened on the 
body with the same tenacity, though under a dif- 
ferent impulse, with that wherewith the hound 
seizes his prey. The strength of the retiring wave 
proved even stronger than he had expected, and 
it was not without a struggle for his own life, as 
well as for that of the stranger, that Mordaunt 
resisted being swept out to sea with the rece- 
ding billow, when, though an adroit swimmer, 
the strength of the tide must either have dashed 
him against the recks, or hurried him out to sea. 
He stood his ground, however, and ere another 


such billow had returned to the attack, he drew 
up, upon the small slip of dry sand, both the bo- 
dy of the man, and the plank to which he conti- 
nued firmly attached. But how to save and to 
recall the means of ebbing life and strength, and 
how to remove into a place of greater safety the 
sufferer, who was incapable of giving any assist- 
ance towards his own preservation, were ques- 
tions which Mordaunt asked himself eagerly, but 
in vain. 

He looked to the summit of the cliff on which 
he had left his father, and shouted to him for his 
assistance ; but his eye could not distinguish his 
form, and his voice was only answered by the 
scream of the sea-birds. He gazed again on the 
sufferer — A dress richly laced, according to the 
fashion of the times, fine linens, and rings upon 
his fingers, evinced he was a man of superior 
rank ; and his features shewed youth and come- 
liness, notwithstanding they were pallid and dis- 
figured. He still breathed, but so feebly, that 
his respiration seemed almost imperceptible, and 
life seemed to keep such slight hold of his frame, 


that there was every reason to fear it would be- 
come altogether extinguished, unlessit were speed- 
ily reinforced. To loosen the handkerchief from 
his neck, to raise him with his face towards the 
breeze, to support him with his arms, was all that 
Mordaunt could do for his assistance, whilst he 
anxiously looked round for some one who might 
lend his aid in dragging the unfortunate to a more 
safe situation. 

At this moment he beheld a man advancing 
slowly and cautiously along the beach. He was in 
hopes, at first, it was his father, but instantly re- 
collected that he had not had time to come round 
by the circuitous descent, to which he must ne- 
cessarily have recourse, and besides he saw that 
the man who approached him was shorter in sta- 

As he came nearer, Mordaunt was at no loss to 
recognize the pedlar whom the day before he had 
met with at Harfra, and who was known to him 
before upon many occasions. He shouted as loud 
as he could, *f Bryce, hollo ! Bryce, come hither I" 
But the merchant, intent upon picking up some 
of the spoils of the wreck, and upon dragging 


them out of reach of the tide, paid for some time 
little attention to his shouts. 

When he did at length approach Mordaunt, it 
was not to lend him his aid, but to remonstrate 
with him on his rashness in undertaking the cha- 
ritable office. " Are you mad F" said he ; " you 
that have lived sae lang in Zetland, to risk the 
saving of a drowning man ? Wot ye not, if you 
bring him to life again, he will be sure to do you 
some capital injury ? — Come, Master Mordaunt, 
bear a hand to what's mair to the purpose. Help 
me to get ane or twa of these kists ashore before 
any body else comes, and we shall share, like good 
Christians, what God sends us, and be thankful." 

Mordaunt was indeed no stranger to this in- 
human superstition, current at a former period 
among the lower orders of the Zetlanders, and 
the More generally adopted, perhaps, that it ser- 
ved as an apology for refusing assistance to the 
unfortunate victims of shipwreck, while they made 
plunder of their goods- At any rate, the opi- 
nion, that to save a drowning man was to run 
the risk of future injury from him, formed a 
strange contradiction in the character of these 


islanders; who, hospitable, generous, and dis- 
interested on all other occasions, were sometimes, 
nevertheless, induced by this superstition, to re- 
fuse their aid in these mortal emergencies, which 
were so common upon their rocky and stormy 
coasts. We are happy to add, that the exhort- 
ation and example of the proprietors have era- 
dicated even the traces of this inhuman belief, 
of which there might be some observed within 
the memory of those now alive. It is strange 
that the minds of men should have ever been 
hardened towards those involved in a distress to 
which they themselves were so constantly ex- 
posed ; but perhaps the constant sight and con- 
sciousness of such danger tends to blunt the feel- 
ings to its consequences, whether affecting our- 
selves or others. 

Bryce was remarkably tenacious of this ancient 
belief; the more so, perhaps, that the mounting 
of his pack depended less upon the ware-houses 
of Lerwick or Kirkwall, than on the consequences 
of such a north-western gale as that of the day 
preceding ; for which (being a man who, in his 
own way, professed great devotion) he seldom 


failed to express his grateful thanks to heaven. It 
was indeed said of him, that if he had spent the 
same time in assisting the wrecked seamen, that 
he had done in rifling their bales and boxes, he 
would have saved many lives, and lost much linen. 
He paid no sort of attention to the repeated en- 
treaties of Mordaunt, although he was now upon 
the same slip of sand with him — well known to 
Bryce as a place on which the eddy was likely to 
land such spoils as the ocean disgorged — but occu- 
pied himself busily in securing and appropriating 
whatever seemed most portable and of greatest va- 
lue. At length Mordaunt saw the honest pedlar fix 
his views upon a strong sea-chest, framed of some 
Indian wood, well secured by brass plates, and 
seeming to be of a foreign construction. The stout 
lock resisted all Bryce's efforts to open it, until, 
with great composure, he plucked from his pocket 
a very neat hammer and chisel, and began for- 
cing the hinges. 

Incensed at his assurance beyond patience, 
Mordaunt caught up a wooden stretcher which 
lay near him, and laying his charge softly on the 
sand, approached Bryce with a menacing gesture, 


and exclaimed, " You cold-blooded inhuman ras- 
cal ! either get up instantly and lend me your as- 
sistance to recover this man, and bear him out of 
danger from the surf, or I will not only beat you 
to a mummy on the spot, but inform Magnus 
Troil of your thievery, that he may have you flog- 
ged till your bones are bare, and then banish you 
from the main island." 

The lid of the chest had just' sprung open as 
this rough address saluted Bryce's ears, and the 
inside presented a tempting view of wearing ap- 
parel for sea and land ; shirts, plain and with lace 
ruffles, a silver compass, a silver-hilted sword, and 
other valuable articles, which the pedlar well knew 
to be such as stir in the trade. He was half-dispo- 
sed to start up, draw the sword, which was a cut- 
and-thrust, and " darraign battaile," as Spencer 
says, rather than quit his prize, or brook inter- 
ruption. Being, though short, a stout square-made 
personage, and not much past the prime of life, 
having besides the better weapon, he might have 
given Mordaunt more trouble than his benevo- 
lent knight-errantry deserved. 


Already, as with vehemence he repeated his 
injunctions that Bryce should forbear his plunder, 
and come to the assistance of the dying man, the 
pedlar retorted with a voice of defiance, " Dinna 
swear, sir ; dinna swear j sir— I will endure no 
swearing in my presence ; and if you lay a finger 
on me, that am taking the lawful spoil of the 
Egyptians, I will give ye a lesson ye shall remem- 
ber from this day to Yule.'" 

Mordaunt would speedily have put the pedlar's 
courage to the test, but a voice behind him sud- 
denly said, " Forbear !" It was the voice of Nor- 
na of the Fitful-head, who, during the heat of 
their altercation, had approached them unobser- 
ved. " Forbear, 1 ' she repeated ; " and, Bryce, do 
thou render Mordaunt the assistance he requires ; 
it shall avail thee more, and it is I who say the 
word, than all that you could earn to-day besides/ 1 

" It is seenteen hundred linen," said the pedlar, 
giving a tweak to one of the shirts, in that know- 
ing manner with which matrons and judges ascer- 
tain the texture of the loom ; " it's seenteen hun- 
dred linen, and as strong as an it were dowlas. 



Nevertheless, mother, your bidding is to be done ; 
and I would have done Mr Mordaunt's bidding 
too," he added, relaxing from his note of defiance, 
into the deferential whining tone with which he 
cajoled his customers, " if he hadna made use of 
profane oaths, which made my very flesh grue, 
and caused me, in some sort, to forget myself." 
He then took a flask from his pocket, and ap- 
proached the shipwrecked man. " It's the best 
of brandy," he said ; " and if that does na cure 
him, I ken nought that will." So saying, he 
took a preliminary gulp himself, as if to shew the 
quality of the liquor, and was about to put it to 
the man's mouth, when suddenly withholding his 
hand, he looked at Noma — " You insure me 
against all risk of evil from him, if I am to ren- 
der him my help ? — Ye ken yoursel what folks 
say, mother." 

For all other answer, Noma took the bottle 
from the pedlar's hand, and began to chafe the 
temples and throat of the shipwrecked man ; di- 
recting Mordaunt how to hold his head, so as to 
afford him the means of disgorging the sea-water 
which he had swallowed during his immersion. 

VOL. I. If 


The pedlar looked on inactive for a moment, 
and then said, " To be sure there is not the same 
risk in helping him now he is out of the water, 
and lying high and dry on the beach ; and, to be 
sure, the principal danger is, to those that first 
touch him ; and, to be sure, it is a world's pity to 
see how these rings are pinching the puir crea- 
ture's swald fingers — they make his hand as blue 
as a partan's back before boiling." So saying, he 
seized one of the man's cold hands, which had just, 
by a tremulous motion, indicated the return of 
life, and began his charitable work of removing 
the rings, which seemed to be of some value. 

" As you love your life, forbear," said Noma 
sternly, " or I will lay that on you which shall 
spoil your travels through the isles." 

" Now, for mercy s sake, mother, say nae mair 
about it," said the pedlar, " and I'll e'en do your 
pleasure in your ain way. I did feel a rheuma- 
tize in my back-spauld yestreen ; and it wad be a 
sair thing for the like of me to be debarred my 
quiet walk round the country, in the way of trade 
— making the honest penny, and helping myself 
with what Providence sends on our coasts." 


" Peace, then," said the woman — u Peace, as 
thou would st not rue it ; and take this man on thy 
broad shoulders. His life is of value, and you 
will be rewarded." 

" I had muckle need," said the pedlar, pensive- 
ly looking at the lidless chest, and the other mat- 
ters which strewed the sand ; " for he has corned 
between me and as mickle spreacherie as wad hae 
made a man of me for the rest of my life ; and 
now it maun lie here till the next tide sweep it sl 
doun the Roost, after them that aught it yester- 
day morning." 

M Fear not," said Noma, " it will come to man's 
use. See, there come carrion-crows, of scent as 
keen as thine own." 

She spoke truly, for several of the people from 
the hamlet of Jarlshof were now hastening along 
the beach, to have their share in the spoil. The 
pedlar beheld them approach with a deep groan. 
" Ay, ay," he said, " the folk of Jarlshof, they 
will make clean wark ; they are ken'd for that far 
and wide ; they winna leave the value of a rotten 
ratlin ; and what's waur, there isna ane o' them 
has mense or sense eneugh to give thanks for the 


mercies when they have gotten them. There is 
the auld Ranzelman, Neil Ronaldson, that canna 
walk a mile to hear the minister, but he will hir- 
ple ten if he hears of a ship embayed." 

Noma, however, seemed to possess over him so 
complete an ascendancy, that he no longer hesi- 
tated to take the man, who now gave strong symp- 
toms of reviving existence, upon his shoulders ; 
and, assisted by Mordaunt, trudged along the 
sea-beach with his burden, without farther remon- 
strance. Ere he was borne off, the stranger point- 
ed to the chest, and attempted to mutter some- 
thing, to which Noma replied, " Enough. It 
shall be secured."" 

Advancing towards the passage called Erick's 
steps, by which they were to ascend the cliffs, 
they met the people from Jarlshof, hastening in 
the opposite direction. Man and woman, as they 
passed, reverently made room for Noma, and sa- 
luted her — not without an expression of fear upon 
some of their faces. She passed them a few paces, 
and then turning back called aloud to the Ran- 
zelman, who (though the practice was more com- 
mon than legal) was attending the rest of the ham- 


let upon this plundering expedition. " Neil Ro- 
naldson, 11 she said, " mark my words. m There 
stands yonder a chest, from which the lid has been 
just prized off. Look it be brought down to your 
own house at Jarlshof, just as it now is. Beware 
of moving or touching the slightest article. He 
were better in his grave, that so much as looks at 
the contents. I speak not for nought, nor in 
aught will I be disobeyed. 11 

" Your pleasure shall be done, mother, 11 said 
Ronaldson. " I warrant we will not break bulk, 
since sic is your bidding. 11 

Far behind the rest of the villagers, followed 
an old woman, talking to herself, and cursing 
her own decrepitude, which kept her the last of 
the party, yet pressing forward with all her might 
to get her share of the spoil. 

When they met her, Mordaunt was astonish- 
ed to recognize his father's old houskeeper. — 
" How now, 11 he said, " Swertha, what make 
you so far from home ?" 

" Just e'en daikering out to look after my 
aulcl master and your honour, 11 replied Swertha, 
who felt like a criminal caught in the manner ; 


for on more occasions than one, Mr Mertoun had 
intimated his high disapprobation of such excur- 
sions as she was at present engaged in. 

But Mordaunt was too much engaged with his 
own thoughts to take much notice of her delin- 
quency. " Have you seen my father ?" he said. 

" And that I have," replied Swertha — " The 
gude gentleman was ganging to hirsel himsell 
doun Erick's steps, whilk would have been the 
ending of him, that is in no way a cragVman. 
Sae I e'en gat him wiled away hame — and I was 
: ust seeking you that you may gang after him to 
the hall-house, for, to my thought, he is far frae 
weel. ,, 

" My father unwell ?" said Mordaunt, remem- 
bering the faintness he had exhibited at the com- 
mencement of that morning's walk. 

" Far frae weel — far frae weel," groaned out 
Swertha, with a piteous shake of the head — 
" white o 1 the gills — white o"* the gills — and him 
to think of coming down the riva !" 

" Return home, Mordaunt," said Noma, who 
was listening to what had passed. " I will see all 
that is necessary done for this man's relief, and 


you will find him at the Ranzelman's, when you 
list to inquire. You cannot help him more than 
you already have done." 

Mordaunt felt this was true, and, commanding 
Swertha to follow him home instantly, betook 
himself to the path homeward. 

Swertha hobbled reluctantly after her young 
master in the same direction, until she lost sight 
of him on his entering the cleft of the rock, then 
instantly turned about, muttering to herself, 
" Haste home, in good sooth ? — haste home, and 
lose the best chance of getting a new rokelay and 
owrelay that I have had these ten years ? by my 
certie, na — Its seldom sic rich Godsends come on 
our coast — no since the Jenny and James came 
ashore in King Charlie's time." 

So saying, she mended her pace as well as she 
could, and a willing mind making amends for 
frail limbs, posted on with wonderful dispatch to 
put in for her share of the spoil. She soon reach- 
ed the beach, where the Ranzelman, stuffing his 
own pouches all the while, was exhorting the 
rest to part things fair, and be neighbourly, and 


to give to the auld and helpless a share of what 
was going, which he charitably remarked, would 
bring a blessing on the shore, and send them 
" mair wrecks ere winter." 



" He was a lovely youth, I guess ; 
The panther in the wilderness 

Was not so fair as he. 
And when he chose to sport and play, 
No dolphin ever was so gay, 

Upon the tropic sea." 


The light foot of Mordaunt Mertoun was not 
long of bearing him to Jarlshof. He entered the 
house hastily, for what he himself had observed 
that morning, corresponded in some degree with 
the ideas which Swertha's tale was calculated to 
excite. He found his father, however, in the in- 
ner apartment, reposing himself after his fatigue ; 
and his first question satisfied him that the good 
dame had practised a little imposition to get rid 
of them both. 

" Where is this dying man whom you have 
so wisely ventured your own neck to relieve f" 
$aid the elder Mertoun to the younger. 


" Noma, sir," replied Mordaunt, " has taken 
him under her charge; she understands such 
matters. r> 

" And is quack as well as witch ?" said the el- 
der Mertoun. " With all my heart — it is a trou- 
ble saved. But I hasted home on Swertha's hint, 
to look out for lint and bandages, for her speech 
was of broken bones." 

Mordaunt kept silence, well knowing his fa- 
ther would not persevere in his enquiries upon 
such a matter, and not willing either to prejudice 
the old gouvernante, or to excite his father to 
one of those excesses of passion into which he was 
apt to burst, when, contrary to his wont, he thought 
proper to correct the conduct of his domestic. 

It was late in the day ere old Swertha return- 
ed from her expedition, heartily fatigued, and 
bearing with her a bundle of some bulk, contain- 
ing, it would seem, her share of the spoil. Mor- 
daunt instantly sought her out, to charge her with 
the deceits she had practised on both his father 
and himself ; but the accused matron lacked not 
her reply. 


" By her troth,"" she said, " she thought it was 
time to bid Mr Mertoun gang hame and get 
bandages, when she had seen, with her ain twa 
een, Mordaunt ganging down the cliff like a wild 
cat — it was to be thought broken bones would be 
the end, and lucky if bandages wad do any good 
— and, by her troth, she might weel tell Mor- 
daunt his father was puirly, and him looking sae 
white in the gills, (whilk, she wad die upon it, was 
the very word she used,) and it was a thing that 
couldna be denied by man at this very moment." 

" But, Swertha," said Mordaunt, as soon as 
her clamorous defence gave him time to speak in 
reply, "how came you, that should have been 
busy with your housewifery and your spinning, 
to be out this morning at Erick's steps, in order 
to take all this unnecessary care of my father and 
me ? And what is in that bundle, Swertha ? for 
I fear, Swertha, you have been transgressing the 
law, and have been out upon the wrecking sys- 

" Fair fa 1 your sonsy face, and the blessing of 
Saint Ronald upon you," said Swertha, in a tone 
betwixt coaxing and jesting ; " would you keep 

188 THE 1'IRATE. 

a puir body t'rae mending hersell, and sae muc- 
kle gear lying on the loose sand for the lifting ? — 
Hout, Master Mordaunt, a ship ashore is a sight 
to wile the minister out of his very pu'pit in the 
middle of his preaching, muckle mair a puir auld 
ignorant wife frae her rock and her tow. And lit- 
tle did I get for my day's wark — just some rags o" 
cambric things, and a bit or twa of coarse claith, 
and sic like — the strong and the hearty get a 1 
thing in this warld." 

" Yes, Swertha," replied Mertoun, " and that 
is rather hard, as ) r ou must have your share of 
punishment in this world and the next, for rob- 
bing the poor mariners." 

" Hout, callant, wha wad punish an auld wife 
like me for a wheen duds ? — Folk speak muckle 
black ill of Earl Patrick, but he was a friend to 
the shore, and made wise laws against any body 
helping vessels that were like to gang on the 
breakers. * — And the mariners, I have heard 
Bryce Jagger say, lose their right frae the time 
keel touches sand ; and, moreover, they are dead 

* This was literally true. 


and gane, poor souls — dead and gane, and care 
little about warld's wealth now — Nay, nae mair 
than the great Jarls and Sea-kings, in the Norse 
days, did about the treasures that they buried in 
the tombs and sepulchres auld langsyne. Did I 
ever tell you the sang, Master Mordaunt, how 
Olaf Tryguarson gard hide five gold crouns in 
the same grave with him ?" 

" No, Swertha," said Mordaunt, who took 
pleasure in tormenting the cunning old plunderer 
— " You never told me that ; but I tell you, that 
the stranger, whom Noma has taken down to the 
town, will be well enough to-morrow, to ask where 
you have hidden the goods that you have stolen 
from the wreck." 

" But wha will tell him a word about it, hin- 
nie ?" said Swertha, looking slily up in her young 
master's face — " The mair by token, since I maun 
tell ye, that I have a bonnie remnant of silk amang 
the lave, that will make a dainty waistcoat to your- 
sell, the first merry-making ye gang to." 

Mordaunt could no longer forbear laughing at 
the cunning with which the old dame proposed to 
bribe off his evidence by imparting a portion of 


her plunder ; and, desiring her to get ready what 
provisions she had made for dinner, he returned 
to his father, whom he still found sitting in the 
same place, and nearly in the same posture, in 
which he had left him. 

When their hasty and frugal meal was finish- 
ed, Mordaunt announced to his father his pur- 
pose of going down to the town, or hamlet, to 
look after the shipwrecked sailor. 

The elder Mertoun assented with a nod. 

" He must be ill accommodated there, sir," 
added his son, — a hint which only produced an- 
other nod of assent. " He seemed, from his ap- 
pearance," pursued Mordaunt, "to be of very 
good rank — and, admitting these poor people do 
their best to receive him, in his present weak 
state, yet" 

" I know what you would say," said his father, 
interrupting him ; " we, you think, ought to do 
something towards assisting him. Go to him, 
then — if he lacks money, let him name the sum, 
and he shall have it ; but, for lodging the stran- 
ger here, and holding intercourse with him, I nei- 
ther can, nor will do so. I have retired to this 


farthest extremity of the British isles, to avoid 
new friends and new faces, and none such shall 
intrude on me either their happiness or their mi- 
sery. When you have known the world half a 
score of years longer, your early friends will have 
given you reason to remember them, and to avoid 
new ones for the rest of your life. Go then — 
why do you stop? — rid the country of the man — let, 
me see no one about me but those vulgar coun- 
tenances, the extent and character of whose petty 
knavery I know, and can submit to, as to an evil 
too trifling to cause irritation." He then threw 
his purse to his son, and signed to him to depart 
with all speed. 

Mordaunt was not long before he reached the 
village. In the dark abode of Neil Ronaldson, 
the Ranzelman, he found the stranger, seated by 
the peat-fire, upon the very chest which had ex- 
cited the cupidity of the devout JBryce Snailsfoot, 
the pedlar. The Ranzelman himself was absent, 
dividing, with all due impartiality, the spoils of 
the wrecked vessel amongst the natives of the 
community; listening to, and redressing their 


complaints of inequality ; and (if the matter in 
hand had not been, from the beginning to end, 
utterly unjust and indefensible) discharging the 
part of a wise and prudent magistrate, in all the 
details relating to it. For at this time, and pro- 
bably until a much later period, the lower orders 
of the islanders entertained an opinion, common 
to barbarians also when in the same situation, that 
whatever was cast on their shores, became their 
indisputable property. 

Margery Bimbister, the worthy spouse of 
the Ranzelman, was in the charge of the house, 
and introduced Mordaunt to her guest, saying, 
with no great ceremony, " This is the young 
tacksman — You will maybe tell him your name, 
though you will not tell it to us. If it had not 
been for his four quarters, it's but little you would 
have said to any body, sae lang as life lasted." 

The stranger arose, and shook Mordaunt by 
the hand ; observing, he understood that he had 
been the means of saving his life and his chest. 
" The rest of the property," he said, "is, I see, 
walking the plank ; for they are as busy as the 
devil in a gale of wind." 


" And what was the use of your seamanship, 
then," said Margery, " that you couldna keep off 
the Sumburgh-head ? It would have been long 
ere Sumburgh-head had come to you." 

" Leave us for a moment, good Margery Bim- 
bister," said Mordaunt ; " I wish some private 
conversation with this gentleman." 

" Gentleman !" said Margery, with an empha- 
sis ; " not but the man is well eneugh to look at," 
she added, again surveying him, " but I doubt 
if there is muckle of the gentleman," 

Mordaunt looked at the stranger, and was of 
a different opinion. He was rather above the mid- 
dle size, and formed handsomely as well as strong- 
ly. Mordaunt's acquaintance with society was 
not extensive ; but he thought his new acquaint- 
ance, to a bold sun-burnt handsome countenance, 
which seemed to have faced various climates, add- 
ed the frank and open manners of a sailor. He 
answered cheerfully the inquiries which Mor- 
daunt made after his health ; and maintained that 
one night's rest would relieve him from all the ef- 
fects of the disaster he had sustained. But he 

VOL. I. N 


spoke with bitterness of the avarice and curiosity 
of the Ranzelman and his spouse. 

" That chattering old woman," said the stran- 
ger, " has persecuted me the whole day for the 
name of the ship. I think she might be content- 
ed with the share she has had of it. I was the 
principal owner of the vessel that was lost yon- 
der, and they have left me nothing but my wear- 
ing apparel. Is there no magistrate, or justice of 
the peace, in this wild country, that would lend a 
hand to help one when he is among the break- 
ers r 

Mordaunt mentioned Magnus Troil, the prin- 
cipal proprietor, as well as the Fowd, or provin- 
cial judge of the district, as the person from whom 
he was most likely to obtain redress ; and regret- 
ted that his own youth, and his father's situation 
as a retired stranger, should put it out of their 
power to afford him the protection he required. 

" Nay, for your part, you have done enough," 
said the sailor ; " but if I had five out of the for- 
ty brave fellows that are fishes'' food by this time, 
the devil a man would I ask to do me the right 
that I could do for myself." 


" Forty hands !" said Mordaunt ; " you were 
well manned for the size of the ship." 

" Not so well as we needed to be. We mount- 
ed ten guns, besides chasers ; but our cruize on 
the main had thinned us of men, and lumbered 
us up with goods. Six of our guns were in bal- 
last. — Hands ! if I had had enough of hands, we 
would never have miscarried so infernally. The 
people were knocked up with working the pumps, 
and so took to their boats, and left me with the 
vessel, to sink or swim. But the dogs had their 
pay, and I can afford to pardon them — The boats 
swamped in the current — all were lost — and here 
am I." 

" You had came north about then, from the 
West Indies ?" said Mordaunt. 

" Ay, ay ; the vessel was the Good Hope of 
Bristol, a letter of marque. She had fine luck 
down on the Spanish main, both with commerce 
and privateering, but the luck's ended with her 
now. My name is Clement Cleveland, captain, 
and part owner, as I said before — I am a Bristol 
man born — my father was well known on the Toll- 
sell — old Clem Cleveland of the College-green " 


Mordaunt had no right to inquire farther, and 
yet it seemed to him as if his own mind was but 
half satisfied. There was an affectation of blunt- 
ness, a sort of defiance in the manner of the stran- 
ger, for which circumstances afforded no occasion. 
Captain Cleveland had suffered injustice from the 
islanders, but from Mordaunt he had only recei- 
ved kindness and protection ; yet he seemed as if 
he involved all the neighbourhood in the wrongs 
he complained of. Mordaunt looked down and 
was silent, doubting whether it would be better 
to take his leave, or to proceed farther in his offers 
of assistance. Cleveland seemed to guess at his 
thoughts, for he immediately added, in a concili- 
ating manner, — " I am a plain man, Master Mer- 
toun, for that I understand is your name ; and I 
am a ruined man to boot, and that does not mend 
one's good manners. But you have done a kind 
and friendly part by me, and it may be I think 
as much of it as if I thanked you more. And so 
before I leave this place, I'll give you my fowling- 
piece ; she will put a hundred swan-shot through 
a Dutchman's cap at eighty paces — she will carry 
ball too — I have hit a wild-bull within a hundred- 


and-fifty yards — but I have two that are as good, 
or better, so you may keep this for my sake.' 

" That would be to take my share of the 
wreck,"" answered Mordaunt, laughing. 

" No such matter," said Cleveland, undoing a 
case which contained several guns and pistols, — 
" you see I have saved my private arm-chest, as 
well as my clothes — that the tall old woman in the 
dark rigging managed for me. And, between 
ourselves, it is worth all I have lost ;" for, he add- 
ed, lowering his voice and looking round, " when 
I speak of being ruined in the hearing of these 
land-sharks, I do not mean ruined stock and 
block. No, here is something will do more than 
shoot sea-fowl." So saying, he pulled out a great 
ammunition-pouch marked swan-shot, and shew- 
ed Mordaunt hastily that it was full of Spanish 
pistoles and Portagues (as the broad Portugal 
pieces were then called.) " No, no," he added, 
with a smile, " I have ballast enough to trim the 
vessel again ; and now, will you take the piece ?" 
w Since you are willing to give it me," said 
Mordaunt, laughing, " with all my heart. I 
I was just going to ask you, in my father's name," 


he added, shewing his purse, " whether you 
wanted any of that same ballast." 

" Thanks, but you see I am provided — take 
my old acquaintance, and may she serve you as 
well as she has served me ; but you will never 
make so good a voyage with her. You can shoot, 
I suppose ?" 

" Tolerably well," said Mordaunt, admiring 
the piece, which was a beautiful Spanish barrel 
gun, inlaid with gold, small in the bore, and of 
unusual length, such as is chiefly used for shoot- 
ing sea-fowl, and for ball-practice. 

" With slugs," continued the donor, " never 
gun shot closer ; and with single ball, you may 
kill a seal two hundred yards at sea from the top 
of the highest peak of this iron-bound coast of 
yours. But I tell you again, that the old rattler 
will never do you the service she has done me." 

" I shall not use her so dexterously, perhaps," 
said Mordaunt. 

" Umph ! — perhaps not," replied Cleveland ; 
" but that is not the question. What say you to 
shooting the man at the wheel, just as we run 
aboard of a Spaniard ? So the Don was taken 


aback, and we laid him athwart the hawse, and 
carried her cutlass in hand ; and worth the while 
she was — stout brigantine — El Santo Francisco 
— bound for Porto Bello, with gold and negroes. 
That little bit of lead was worth twenty thousand 

" I have shot at no such game as yet," said 

" Well, all in good time ; we cannot weigh till 
the tide makes. But you are a tight, handsome, 
active young man. What is to ail you to take a 
trip after some of this stuff ?" laying his hand on 
the bag of gold. 

" My father talks of my travelling soon," re- 
plied Mordaunt, who, born to hold men-of-wars 
men in great respect, felt flattered by this invi- 
tation from one who appeared a thorough-bred 

" I respect him for the thought," said the 
Captain ; " and I will visit him before I weigh 
anchor. I have a consort off these islands, and 
be cursed to her. Shell find me out somewhere, 
though she parted company in the bit of a squall, 
unless she is gone to Davy Jones too— Well, she 



was better found than us, and not so deep load- 
ed — she must have weathered it. We'll have a 
hammock slung for you aboard, and make a sail- 
or and a man of you in the same trip. 1, 

" I should like it well enough," said Mor- 
daunt, who eagerly longed to see more of the 
world than his lonely situation had hitherto per- 
mitted ; " but then my father must decide." 

" Your father ? pooh !" said Captain Cleve- 
land ; " but you are very right," he added, check- 
ing himself. " Gad, I have lived so long at sea, 
that I cannot think any body has a right to think 
except the captain and the master. But you are 
very right. I will go up to the old gentleman 
this instant, and speak him myself. He lives in 
that handsome, modern-looking building, I sup- 
pose, that I see a quarter of a mile off ?" 

" In that old half-ruined house," said Mor- 
daunt, " he does indeed live ; but he will see no 

u Then you must drive the point yourself, for 
I can't stay in this latitude. Since your father 
is no magistrate, I must go to see this same Mag- 
nus — how call you him ? who is not justice of 


peace, but something else that will do the turn 
as well. These fellows have got two or three 
things that I must and will have back — let them 
keep the rest, and be d — d to them. Will you 
give me a letter to him, just by way of commis- 
sion ?" 

" It is scarce needful, 1 ' said Mordaunt. " It 
is enough that you are shipwrecked, and need his 
help ; — but yet I may as well furnish you with a 
letter of introduction." 

" There," said the sailor, producing a writing- 
case from his chest, " are your writing-tools, — 
meantime, since bulk has been broken, I will nail 
down the hatches, and make sure of the cargo." 

While Mordaunt accordingly was engaged in 
writing to Magnus Troil a letter, setting forth the 
circumstances in which Captain Cleveland had 
been thrown upon their coast, the Captain, ha- 
ving first selected and laid aside some wearing- 
apparel and necessaries enough to fill a knapsack, 
took in hand hammer and nails, employed him- 
self in securing the lid of his sea-chest, by fast- 
ening it down in a workmanlike manner, and then 


added the corroborating security of a cord, twist- 
ed and knotted with nautical dexterity. " Heave 
this in your charge," he said, " all except this,'' 
shewing the bag of gold, " and these/'' pointing 
to a cutlass and pistols, " which may prevent all 
further risk of my parting company with my Por- 

" You will find no occasion for weapons in this 
country, Captain Cleveland," replied Mordaunt ; 
" a child might travel with a purse of gold from 
Sumburgh-head to the Scaw of Unst, and no soul 
would injure him. 1 ' 

" And that's pretty boldly said, young gentle- 
man, considering what is going on without doors 
at this moment.'" 

" O," replied Mordaunt, a little confused, 
'' what comes on land with the tide, they reckon 
their lawful property. One would think they had 
studied under Sir Arthegal, who pronounces — 

For equal right in equal things doth stand, 
And what the mighty sea hath once possess'd, 

And plucked quite from all possessors' hands, 
Or else by wrecks that wretches hath distress'd, 


He may dispose, by his resistless might, 
As things at random left, to whom he list. 

" I shall think the better of plays and ballads 
as long as I live, for these very words," said Cap- 
tain Cleveland ; u and yet I have loved them 
well enough in my day. But this is good doc- 
trine, and more men than one may trim their sails 
to such a breeze. What the sea sends is ours, 
that's sure enough. However, in case that your 
good folks should think the land as well as the 
sea may present them with waiffs and strays, I 
will make bold to take my cutlass and pistols. 
Will you cause my chest to be secured in your 
own house till you hear from me, and use your 
influence to procure me a guide to shew me the 
way, and to carry my kitt ?" 

u Will you go by sea or land ?" said Mor- 
daunt, in reply. 

" By sea P exclaimed Cleveland. " What — 
in one of these cockle-shells, and a cracked cockle- 
shell, to boot ? No, no— land, land, unless I 
knew my crew, my vessel, and my voyage."" 

They parted accordingly, Captain Cleveland 


being supplied with a guide to conduct him to 
Burgh- Westra, and his chest being carefully re- 
moved to the mansion-house at Jarlshof. 



This is a gentle trader, and a prudent. 

He's no Autolycus, to blear your eye, 

With quips of worldly gauds and gamesomeness ; 

But seasons all his glittering merchandize 

With wholesome doctrines suited to the use. 

As men sauce goose with sage and rosemary. 

Old Play. 

On the subsequent morning, Mordaunt, in an- 
swer to his father's inquiries, began to give him 
some account of the shipwrecked mariner, whom 
he had rescued from the waves. But he had not 
proceeded far in recapitulating the particulars 
which Cleveland had communicated, when Mr 
Mertoun's looks became disturbed — he arose has- 
tily, and, after pacing twice or thrice across the 
room, he retired into the inner chamber, to which 
he usually confined himself, while under the in- 
fluence of his mental malady. In the evening he 


re-appeared, without any traces of his disorder; 
but it may be easily supposed that his son avoid- 
ed recurring to the subject which had affected 

Mordaunt Mertoun was thus left without as- 
sistance, to form at his leisure his own opinion re- 
specting the new acquaintance which the sea had 
sent him ; and, upon the whole, he was himself 
surprised to find the result less favourable to the 
stranger than he could well account for. There 
seemed to Mordaunt to be a sort of repelling in- 
fluence about the man. True, he was a hand- 
some man, of a frank and prepossessing manner, 
but there was an assumption of superiority about 
him, which Mordaunt did not quite so much like. 
Although he was so keen a sportsman as to be 
delighted with his acquisition of the Spanish bar- 
relled gun, and accordingly mounted and dis- 
mounted it with great interest, paying the utmost 
attention to the most minute parts about the lock 
and ornaments, yet he was, upon the whole, in- 
clined to have some scruples about the mode in 
which he had acquired it. 


" I should not have accepted it," he thought ; 
" perhaps Captain Cleveland might give it me 
as a sort of payment for the trifling service I did 
him ; and yet it would have been churlish to re- 
fuse it in the way it was offered. I wish he had 
looked more like a man whom one would have 
chosen to be obliged to." 

But a successful day's shooting reconciled him 
with his gun, and he became assured, like most 
young sportsmen in similar circumstances, that 
all other pieces were but pop-guns in comparison. 
But then, to be doomed to shoot gulls and seals, 
when there were Frenchmen and Spaniards to be 
come at — when there were ships to be boarded, 
and steersmen to be marked off, seemed but a 
dull and contemptible destiny. His father had 
mentioned his leaving these islands, and no other 
mode of occupation occurred to his inexperience, 
save that of the sea, with which he had been con- 
versant from his infancy. His ambition had for- 
merly aimed no higher than at sharing the fa- 
tigues and dangers of a Greenland fishing expe- 
dition ; for it was in that scene that the Zetland- 


ers laid most of their perilous adventures. But 
of late that war was again raging, the history of 
Sir Francis Drake, Captain Morgan, and other 
bold adventurers, whose exploits he had purcha- 
sed from Bryce Snailsfoot, had made much im- 
pression on his mind, and the offer of Captain 
Cleveland to take him to sea, frequently recur- 
red to him, although the pleasure of such a pro- 
ject was somewhat damped by a doubt, whether, 
in the long run, he should not find many objec- 
tions to his proposed commander. Thus much he 
already saw, that he was opinionative, and might 
probably prove arbitrary; and that, since even his 
kindness was mingled with assumption of superi- 
ority, his occasional displeasure might contain a 
great deal more of that disagreeable ingredient 
than could be palatable to those who sailed under 
him. And yet, after counting all risks, could his 
father's consent but be obtained, with what plea- 
sure, he thought, would he embark inquest of new 
scenes and strange adventures, in which he pro- 
posed to himself to achieve such deeds as should 
be the theme of many a tale to the lovely sisters of 


B urghWestra-^-tales at which M inna should weep, 
and Bertha should smile, and both should marvel. 
And this was to be the reward of his labours and 
his dangers ; for the hearth of Magnus Troil had 
a magnetic influence over his thoughts, and how- 
ever they might traverse amid his day-dreams, it 
was the point where they finally settled. 

There were times when Mordaunt thought of 
mentioning to his father the conversation he had 
with Captain Cleveland, and the seaman's pro- 
posal to him ; but the very short and general ac- 
count which he had given of that person's history, 
upon the morning after his departure from the 
hamlet, had produced a sinister effect upon Mr 
Mertoun's mind, and discouraged him from speak- 
ing farther on any subject connected with it. It 
would be time enough, he thought, to mention 
Captain Cleveland's proposal, when his consort 
should arrive, and when he should repeat his of- 
fer in a more formal manner ; and these he sup- 
posed events likely very soon to happen. 

But days grew to weeks, and weeks were num- 
bered into months, and he heard nothing from 

vol. i. o 


Cleveland ; and only learned by an occasional vi- 
sit from Bryce Snailsfoot, that the Captain was 
residing at Burgh Westra, as one of the family. 
Mordaunt was somewhat surprised at this, al- 
though the unlimited hospitality of the islands, 
which Magnus Troil, both from fortune and dis- 
position, carried to the utmost extent, made it al- 
most a matter of course that he should remain in 
the family until he disposed of himself otherwise. 
Still it seemed strange he had not gone to some 
of the northern isles to inquire after his consort ; 
or that he did not rather chuse to make his resi- 
dence at Lerwick, where fishing vessels often 
brought news from the coasts and ports of Scot- 
land and Holland. Again, why did he not send 
for the chest he had deposited at Jarlshof ? and 
still further, Mordaunt thought it would have 
been but polite if the stranger had sent him some 
sort of message in token of remembrance. 

These subjects of reflection were connected 
with another still more unpleasant, and more dif- 
ficult to account for. Until the arrival of this 
person, scarce a week had passed without bring- 
ing him some kind greeting, or token of recollec- 


tion, from Burgh-Westra ; and pretences were 
scarce ever wanting for maintaining a constant 
intercourse. Minna wanted the words of a Norse 
ballad ; or desired to have, for her various collec- 
tions, feathers, or eggs, or shells, or specimens 
of the rarer sea- weeds ; or Bertha sent a riddle 
to be resolved, or a song to be learned ; or the 
honest old Udaller, — in a rude manuscript, which 
might have passed for an ancient Runic inscrip- 
tion—sent his hearty greetings to his good young 
friend, with a present of something to make good 
cheer, and an earnest request he would come to 
Burgh-Westra as soon, and stay there as long, as 
possible. These kindly tokens of remembrance 
were often sent by special message; besides which, 
there was never passenger or traveller who cross- 
ed from the one mansion to the other, that did 
not bring to Mordaunt some friendly greeting 
from the Udaller and his family. Of late, this 
intercourse had become more and more infre- 
quent ; and no messenger from Burgh-Westra 
had visited Jarlshof for several weeks. Mordaunt 
both observed and felt this alteration, and it dwelt 


on his mind, while he questioned Bryce as close- 
ly as pride and prudence would permit, to ascer- 
tain, if possible, the cause of the changes. Yet 
he endeavoured to assume an indifferent air while 
he asked the jagger whether there was no news 
in the country. 

" Great news," the jagger replied ; " and a gay 
mony of them. That crack-brained carle, the 
new factor, is for making a change in the bismars 
and the Nspiinds ;* and our worthy Fowd, Mag- 
nus Troil, has sworn, that, sooner than change 
them for the still-yard, or aught else, he'll fling 
Factor Yellowleys from Brassa-craig. 11 

" Is that all ?" said Mordaunt, very little in- 

"All ? and eneugh, I think," replied the ped- 
lar. " How are folks to buy and sell, if the 
weights are changed on them ?" 

" Very true,"'' replied Mordaunt ; " but have 
you heard of no strange vessels on the coast P" 

* These are weights of Norwegian origin, still used in 


" Six Dutch doggers off Brassa ; and, as I 
hear, a high-quartered galliot thing, with a gaff 
mainsail, lying in Scalloway Bay. She will be 
from Norway ." 

" No ships of war, or sloops ?" 

" None," replied the pedlar, " since the Kite 
Tender sailed with the impress men. If it was 
His will, and our men were out of her, I wish the 
deep sea had her."" 

" Were there no news at Burgh- Westra ?"— 
Were the family all well ?" 

" A 1 weel, and weel to do — out-taken, it may 
be, something ower muckle daffing and laughing 
— dancing ilk night, they say, w? the stranger 
captain that's living there — he that was ashore 
on Sumburgh-head the tother day, — less daffing 
served him then." 1 

" Daffing ! dancing every night !" said Mor- 
daunt, not particularly well satisfied. — " Whom 
does Captain Cleveland dance with P* 

" Ony body he likes, I fancy," said the jag- 
ger ; " at ony rate, he gars a" body yonder dance 
after his fiddle. But I ken little about it, for I 


am no free in conscience to look upon thae fling- 
ing fancies. Folk should mind that life is made 
but of rotten yarn." 

" I fancy that it is to keep them in mind of 
that wholesome truth, that you deal in such ten- 
der wares, Bryce," replied Mordaunt, dissatisfied 
as well with the tenor of the reply, as with the 
affected scruples of the respondent. 

" That's as muckle as to say, that I suld hae 
minded you was a flinger and a fiddler yoursell, 
Master Mordaunt ; but I am an auld man, and 
maun unburthen my conscience. But ye will 
be for the dance, I sail warrant, that's to be at 
Burgh-Westra, on John's Even, (Saunt John's, 
as the blinded creatures ca' him ;) and nae doubt 
ye will be for some warldly braws — hose, waist- 
coats, or sic like. I hae pieces frae Flanders"— 
With that he placed his moveable warehouse on 
the table, and began to unlock it. 

" Dance !" repeated Mordaunt — " Dance on 
St John's even ? — Were you desired to bid me 
to it, Bryce ?" 

" Na — but ye ken weel eneugh ye wad be wei- 


come, bidden or no bidden. This captain, how- 
ca'-ye-him, is to be skudler as they ca't — the first 
of the gang, like." 

" The devil take him !" said Mordaunt, in im- 
patient surprise. 

" A' in gude time,'" replied the j agger ; " hur- 
ry no man's cattle — the devil will hae his due, I 
warrant ye, or it winna be for lack of seeking. 
But it's true I'm telling you, for a' ye stare like a 
wild cat ; and this same captain, I-wat-na-his- 
name, bought ane of the very waistcoats that I 
am ganging to shew ye — purple, wi' a gowd bind- 
ing, and bonnily broidered ; and I have a piece 
for you, the neighbour of it, wi 1 a green grund ; 
and if ye mean to streak yoursell up beside him, 
ye maun e'en buy it, for it's gowd that glances 
in the lasses' een now-a-days. See — look till't," 
he added, displaying the pattern in various points 
of view ; " look till it through the light, and till 
the light through it — wi' the grain, and against 
the grain — it shews ony gate — cam frae Antwerp 
a' the gate — four dollars is the price ; and yon 
captain was sae weel pleased, that he flang down 



a twenty shilling Jacobus, and bade me keep the 
change and be damned ! — poor silly profane crea- 
ture, I pity him.'" 

Without inquiring whether the pedlar bestow- 
ed his compassion on the worldly imprudence, or 
the religious deficiencies of Captain Cleveland, 
Mordaunt turned from him, folded his arms, and 
paced the apartment, muttering to himself, " Not 
asked — A stranger to be king of the feast !"-r- 
Words which he repeated so earnestly, that Bryce 
caught a part of their import. 

" As for asking, I am almaist bauld to say, 
that ye will be asked, Master Mordaunt.'" 

" Did they mention my name then ?" said 

" I canna preceesely say that," said Bryce Snails- 
foot ; " but ye needna turn away your head sae 
sourly, like a sealgh when he leaves the shore ; 
for, do you see, I heard distinctly that sC the re- 
vellers about are to be there ; and is't to be thought 
they would leave out you, an auld ken'd freend, 
and the lightest foot at sic frolics, (Heaven send 
you a better praise in His ain gude time,) that 


ever flang at a fiddle-squeak, between this and 
Unst ? Sae I consider ye altogether the same as 
invited — and ye had best provide yourself wi* a 
waistcoat, for brave and brisk will every man be 
that's there — the Lord pity them !" 

He thus continued to follow with his green 
glazen eyes, the motions of young Mordaunt 
Mertoun, who continued to pace the room in a 
very pensive manner, which the j agger pro- 
bably misinterpreted, as he thought, like Clau- 
dio, that if a man is sad, it must needs be be- 
cause he lacks money. Bryce therefore, after 
another pause, thus accosted him. " Ye need- 
na be sad about the matter, Master Mordaunt ; 
for although I got the just price of the article 
from the captain-man, yet I maun deal freend- 
ly wi? you, as a ken'd freend and customer, and 
bring the price, as they say, within your purse- 
mouth — or it's the same to me to let it lie ower 
till Martinmas, or e'en to Candlemas. I am de- 
cent in the warld, Master Mordaunt — forbid that 
I should hurry onybody, far mair a freend that 
has paid me siller afore now. Or I wad be con- 


tent to swap the garment for the value in fea- 
thers or sea-otters skins, or any kind of peltrie 
— nane kens better than yoursell how to come 
by sic ware — and I am sure I hae furnished you 
wi' the primest 0' powder. I dinna ken if I telPd 
ye it was out o"* the kist of Captain Plunket, 
that perished on the Scaw of Unst, wi' the arm- 
ed brig Mary, sax years syne. He was a prime 
fowler himself, and luck it was that the kist 
came ashore dry. I sell that to nane but gude 
marksmen. And so, I was saying, if ye had 
ony wares ye liked to coup for the waistcoat, I 
wad be ready to trock wi" you, for assuredly ye 
will be wanted at Burgh Westra, on Saint John's 
even ; and ye wadna like to look waur than the 
captain — that wadna be setting." 

" I will be there, at least, whether wanted or 
not,'" said Mordaunt, stopping short in his walk, 
and taking the waistcoat piece hastily out of the 
pedlar's hand ; " and, as you say, will not dis- 
grace them." 

" Haud a care — haud a care, Master Mor- 
daunt," exclaimed the pedlar ; " ye handle it as 
it were a bale of coarse wadmaal — ye'U fray't to 



bits— ye might weel say my ware is tender — and 
yell mind the price is four dollars — Sail I put ye 
in my book for it ?" 

" No," said Mordaunt hastily; and, taking out 
his purse, he flung down the money. 

" Grace to ye to wear the garment," said the 
joyous pedlar, " and to me to guide the siller ; 
and protect us from earthly vanities, and earthly 
covetousness ; and send you the white linen rai- 
ment, whilk is mair to be desired than the mus- 
lins, and cambrics, and lawns, and silks of this 
world ; and send me the talents which avail more 
than much fine Spanish gold, or Dutch dollars 
either — and — but God guide the callant, what 
for are ye wrapping the silk up that gate, like a 
wisp of hay ?" 

At this moment, old Swertha, the housekeeper, 
entered, to whom, as if eager to get rid of the sub- 
ject, Mordaunt threw his purchase, with some- 
thing like careless disdain ; and, telling her to put 
it aside, snatched his gun, which stood in the 
corner, threw his shooting accoutrements about 
him, and without noticing Bryce's attempt to en- 


ter into conversation upon the " braw seal-skin, 
as saft as doe-leather, 11 which made the sling and 
cover of his fowling-piece, he left the apartment 

The j agger, with those green goggling and 
gain-descrying kind of optics, which we have al- 
ready described, continued gazing for an instant 
after the customer, who treated his wares with 
such irreverence. 

Swertha also looked after him with some sur- 
prise. " The callanfs in a creel," quoth she. 

" In a creel !" echoed the pedlar, "he will be 
as wowf as ever his father was. To guide in that 
gate a bargain that cost him four dollars — very, 
very Fifish, as the east-country fisher-folks say." 

" Four dollars for that green rag !" said Swer- 
tha, catching at the words which the j agger had 
unwarily suffered to escape — " that was a bar- 
gain indeed ! I wonder whether he is the greater 
fule, or you the mair rogue, Bryce Snailsfoot." 

" I didna say it cost him preceesely four dol- 
lars," said Snailsfoot ; " but if it had, the lad's 
siller's his ain, I hope ; and he is auld aneugh to 


make his ain bargains. Mair by token, the gudes 
are weel worth the money, and mair." 

" Mair by token, 1 "' said Swertha coolly, " I 
will see what his father thinks about it." 

" Ye'll no be sae ill natured, Mrs Swertha," 
said the jagger ; " that will be but cauld thanks 
for the bonny owerlay that I hae brought you a' 
the way frae Lerwick." 

" And a bonnie price yell be setting on't," 
said Swertha ; " for that's the gate your good 
deeds end." 

u Ye sail hae the fixing of the price yoursell ; 
or it may lie ower till you're buying something 
for the house, or for your master, and it can make 
a' ae count." 

u Troth and that's true, Bryce Snailsfoot, I 
am thinking we'll want some napery sune — for 
it's no to be thought we can spin, and the like, as 
if there was a mistress in the house ; and sae we 
make nane at hame." 

" And that's what I ca' walking by the word," 
said the jagger. u ' Go unto those that buy and 
sell ;' there's muckle profit in that text." 


" There is a pleasure in dealing wi' a discreet 
man, that can make profit of ony thing," said 
Swertha ; " and now that I take another look at 
that daft callant's waistcoat piece, I think it is 
honestly worth four dollars. 1 ' 



" I have possessed the regulation of the weather and the distribu- 
tion of the seasons. The sun has listened to my dictates, and pass- 
ed from tropic to tropic by my direction ; the clouds, at my com- 
mand, have poured forth their waters." — 


Any sudden cause for anxious and mortifying 
reflection, which, in advanced age, occasions sul- 
len and pensive inactivity, stimulates youth to 
eager and active exertion, as if, like the hurt deer, 
they endeavour to drown the pain of the shaft 
by the rapidity of motion. When Mor daunt 
caught up his gun, and rushed out of the house 
of Jarlshof, he walked on with great activity over 
waste and wild, without any determined purpose, 
except that of escaping, if possible, from the smart 
of his own irritation. His pride was effectually 
mortified by the report of the j agger, which co- 
incided exactly with some doubts he had been 


led to entertain, by the long and unkind silence 
of his friends at Burgh-Westra. 

If the fortunes of Caesar had doomed him, as 
the poet suggests, to have been 

" But the best wrestler on the green," 

it is nevertheless to be presumed, that a foil from 
a rival, in that rustic exercise, would have mor- 
tified him as much as a defeat from his rival, 
when he was struggling for the empery of the 
world. And even so Mordaunt Mertoun, de- 
graded in his Own eyes from the height which 
he had occupied as the chief amongst the youth 
of the island, felt vexed and irritated, as well as 
humbled. The two beautiful sisters also, whose 
smiles all were so desirous of acquiring, with 
whom he had lived on terms of such familiar af- 
fection, that, with the same ease and innocence, 
there was unconsciously mixed a shade of deeper 
though undefined tenderness than characterizes 
fraternal love, they also seemed to have forgot- 
ten him. He could not be ignorant that, in the 
universal opinion of all Dunrossness, nay, of the 
whole Main-land, he might have had every chance 


of being the favoured lover of either ; and now at 
once, and without any failure on his part, he was 
become so little to them, that he had lost even 
the consequence of an ordinary acquaintance. 
The old Udaller, too, whose hearty and sincere 
character should have been more constant in his 
friendships, seemed to have been as fickle as his 
daughters, and poor Mordaunt had at once lost 
the smiles of the fair, and the favour of the power- 
ful. These were uncomfortable reflections, and 
he doubled his pace, that he might outstrip them 
if possible. 

Without exactly reflecting upon the route 
which he pursued, Mordaunt walked briskly on 
through a country where neither hedge, wall, nor 
inclosure of any kind, interrupts the steps of the 
wanderer, until he reached a very solitary spot 
where, embosomed among steep heathy hills, 
which sunk suddenly down on the verge of the 
water, lay one of those small fresh-water lakes 
which are common in the Zetland isles, whose 
outlets form the sources of the small brooks and 
rivulets by which the country is watered, and 

vol. i. i» 


serve to drive the little mills which manufacture 
their grain. 

It was a mild summer day ; the beams of the 
sun, as is not uncommon in Zetland, were mode- 
rated and shaded by a silvery haze, which filled 
the atmosphere, and, destroying the strong con- 
trast of light and shade, gave even to noon the 
sober livery of the evening twilight. The little 
lake, not three-quarters of a mile in circuit, lay 
in profound quiet ; its surface undimpled, save 
when one of the numerous water-fowl, which gli- 
ded on its surface, dived for an instant under it. 
The depth of the water gave the whole that ceru- 
lean tint of bluish green, which occasioned its being 
called the Green Loch ; and at present, it form- 
ed so perfect a mirror to the bleak hills by which 
it was surrounded, and which lay reflected on its 
bosom, that it was difficult to distinguish the wa- 
ter from the land ; nay, in the shadowy uncer- 
tainty occasioned by the thin haze, a stranger 
could scarce have been sensible that a sheet of wa- 
ter lay before him. A scene of more complete so- 
litude, having all its peculiarities heightened by 


OO j 

the extreme serenity of the weather, the quiet 
grey composed tone of the atmosphere, and the 
perfect silence of the elements, could hardly be 
imagined. The very aquatic birds, who frequented 
the spot in great numbers, forbore their usual 
flight and screams, and floated in profound tran- 
quillity upon the silent water. 

Without taking any determined aim — without 
having any determined purpose — without almost 
thinking what he was about, Mordaunt present- 
ed his fowling-piece, and fired across the lake. 
The large swan-shot dimpled its surface like a 
partial shower of hail — the hills took up the noise 
of the report, and repeated it again, and again, 
and again, to all their echoes ; the water-fowl 
took to wing in eddying and confused wheel, 
answering the echoes with a thousand varying 
screams, from the deep note of the swabie or 
swartback, to the querulous cry of the tirracke 
and kittiewake. 

Mordaunt looked for a moment on the clamor- 
ous crowd with a feeling of resentment, which he 
felt disposed at the moment to apply to all nature, 
and all her objects, animate or inanimate, how- 


ever little concerned with the cause of his inter- 
nal mortification. 

"Ay, ay," he said, " wheel, dive, scream, and 
clamour as you will, and all because you have 
seen a strange sight, and heard an unusual sound. 
There is many a one like you in this round world. 
But you, at least, shall learn," he added, as he 
re-loaded his gun, " that strange sights and 
strange sounds, ay, and strange acquaintances 
to boot, have sometimes a little shade of danger 
connected with them. — But why should I wreak 
my own vexation on these harmless sea-gulls ?" 
he subjoined, after a moment's pause ; " they 
have nothing to do with the friends that have for- 
gotten me. — I loved them all so well, — and to be 
so soon given up for the first stranger whom 
chance threw on the coast !" 

As he stood resting upon his gun, and aban- 
doning his mind to the course of these unpleasant 
reflections, his meditations were unexpectedly in- 
terrupted by some one touching his shoulder. 
He looked around, and saw Noma of the Fitful- 
head, wrapped in her dark and ample mantle. She 
had seen him from the brow of the hill, and had 


descended to the lake, through a small ravine 
which concealed her, until she came with noise- 
less step so close to him that he turned round at 
her touch. 

Mordaunt Mertoun was by nature neither 
timorous nor credulous, and a course of reading 
more extensive than usual had, in some degree, 
fortified his mind against the attacks of supersti- 
tion; but he would have been an actual prodigy, 
if, living in Zetland in the end of the seventeenth 
century, he had possessed the philosophy which 
did not exist in Scotland generally, until at least 
two generations later. He doubted in his own 
mind the extent, nay, the very existence, of Nor- 
na's supernatural attributes, which was a high 
flight of incredulity in the country where they 
were universally received ; but still his incre- 
dulity went no farther than doubts. She was 
unquestionably an extraordinary woman, gifted 
with an energy above others, acting upon motives 
peculiar to herself, and apparently independent 
on mere earthly considerations. Impressed with 
these ideas, which he had imbibed from his youth, 


it was not without something like alarm, that he 
beheld this mysterious female standing of a sud- 
den so close beside him, and looking upon him 
with such sad and severe eyes, as those with which 
the Fatal Virgins, who, according to northern my- 
thology, were called the Valkyriur, or " chusers 
of the slain, 11 were supposed to regard the young 
champions whom they selected to share the ban- 
quet of Odin. 

It was, indeed, reckoned unlucky, to say the 
least, to meet with Noma suddenly alone, and in 
a place remote from witnesses ; and she was sup- 
posed, on such occasions, to have been usually a 
prophetess of evil, as well as an omen of misfor- 
tune, to those who had such a rencontre. There 
were few or none of the islanders, however fami- 
liarized with her occasional appearance in society, 
that would not have trembled to meet her on the 
solitary banks of the Green Loch. 

" I bring you no evil, Mordaunt Mertoun," 
she said, reading perhaps something of this su- 
perstitious feeling in the looks of the young man. 
" Evil from me you never felt, and never will." 


" Nor do I fear any," said Mordaunt, exert- 
ing himself to throw aside an apprehension which 
he felt to be unmanly. " Why should I, mo- 
ther, you have been ever my friend ?" 

" Yet, Mordaunt, thou art not of our region ; 
but to none of Zetland blood, no, not even to 
those who sit around the hearth-stone of Magnus 
Troil, the noble descendants of the ancient Jarls 
of Orkney, am I more a well-wisher, than I am 
to thee, thou kind and brave-hearted boy. When 
I hung around thy neck that gifted chain, which 
all in our isles know was wrought by no earthly 
artist, but by the Drows, in the secret recesses of 
their caverns, thou wert then but fifteen years 
old ; yet thy foot had been on the Maiden-skerrie 
of Northmaven, known before but to the webbed 
sole of the swartback, and thy skiff had been 
in the deepest cavern of Brinnastir, where the 
haqf-Jish * had before slumbered in dark obscu- 
rity. Therefore I gave thee that noble gift ; and 

* The larger seal, or sea-calf, which seeks the most so- 
litary recesses for its abode. See Dr Edmonstone's Zet- 
land, vol. II. p. 294. 


well thou knowest, that since that day, every eye 
in these isles has looked on thee as a son, or as a 
brother, endowed beyond other youths, and the 
favoured of those whose hour of power is when 
the night meets with the day." * 

" Alas ! mother, 1 ' said Mordaunt, " your kind 
gift may have given me favour, but it has not 
been able to keep it for me, or I have not been 
able to keep it for myself. — What matters it ? I 
shall learn to set as little by others as they do by 
me. My father says that I shall soon leave these 

* The Drows or Trows, the legitimate successors of the 
northern duergar, and somewhat allied to the fairies, re- 
side like them in the interior of green hills and caverns, 
and are most powerful at midnight. They are curious ar- 
tificers in iron, as well as in the precious metals, and are 
sometimes propitious to mortals, but more frequently ca- 
pricious and malevolent. Among the common people of 
Zetland, their existence still forms an article of universal 
belief. In the neighbouring isles of Feroe, they are called 
Foddenskencand, or subterranean people ; and Lucas Ja- 
cobson Debes, well acquainted with their nature, assures 
us that they inhabit in those places which are polluted 
with the effusion of blood, or the practice of any crying 
sin. They have a government, which seems to be mo- 


islands, and therefore, Mother Noma, I will re- 
turn to you your fairy gift, that it may bring 
more lasting luck to some other than it has done 
to me:' 

" Despise not the gift of the nameless race," 
said Noma, frowning ; then suddenly changing 
her tone of displeasure to that of mournful so- 
lemnity, she added, — " Despise them not, but, O 
Mordaunt, court them not ! Sit down on that 
grey stone — thou art the son of my adoption, 
and I will doff, as far as I may, those attributes 
that sever me from the common mass of huma- 
nity, and speak with you as a parent with a child." 
There was a tremulous tone of grief which 
mingled with the loftiness of her language and 
carriage, and was calculated to excite sympathy, 
as well as to attract attention. Mordaunt sate 
down on the rock which she pointed out, a frag- 
ment which, with many others that lay scattered 
around, had been torn by some winter storm from 
the precipice at the foot of which it lay, upon the 
very verge of the water. Noma took her own 
seat on a stone at about three feet distance, ad- 
justed her mantle so that little more than her fore- 


head, her eyes, and a single lock of her grey hair 
were seen from beneath the shade of her dark 
wadmaal cloak, and then proceeded in a tone in 
which the imaginary consequence and importance 
so often assumed by lunacy, seemed to contend 
against the deep workings of some extraordinary 
and deeply-rooted mental affliction. 

" I was not always," she said, " that which I 
now am. I was not always the wise, the powerful, 
the commanding, before whom the young stand 
abashed, and the old uncover their grey heads. 
There was a time when my appearance did not 
silence mirth, when I sympathized with human 
passion, and had my own share in human joy and 
sorrow. It was a time of helplessness — it was a 
time of folly — it was a time of idle and unfruit- 
ful laughter — it was a time of causeless and sense- 
less tears ; — and yet, with its follies and its sor- 
rows and its weaknesses, what would Noma of 
Fitful-head give to be again the unmarked and 
happy maiden that she was in her early days ! 
Hear me, Mordaunt, and bear with me ; for you 
hear me utter complaints which have never sound- 
ed into mortal ears, and which in mortal cars shall 


never sound again. I will be what I ought," she 
continued, starting up and extending her lean 
and withered arm, " the queen and protectress 
of these wild and neglected isles, — I will be her 
whose foot the waves wet not, save by her per- 
mission ; ay, even though its rage be at its wild- 
est madness — whose robe the whirlwind respects 
when it rends the house-rigging from theroof-tree. 
Bear me witness, Mordaunt Mertoun, — you heard 
my words at Harfra — you saw the tempest sink 
before them — Speak, bear me witness !" 

To have contradicted her in this strain of high- 
toned enthusiasm, would have been cruel and un- 
availing, even had Mordaunt been more decidedly 
convinced than he was, that an insane woman, not 
one of supernatural power, stood before him. 

a I heard you sing," he replied, " and I saw 
the tempest abate." 

" Abate ?" exclaimed Noma, striking the 
ground impatiently with her staff of black oak ; 
u thou speakest it but half — it sunk at once — 
sunk in shorter space than the child that is 
hushed to silence by the nurse. — Enough, you 


know my power — but you know not — mortal 
man knows not, and never shall know, the 
price which I paid to attain it. No, Mordaunt, 
never for the widest sway that the ancient 
Norsemen boasted, when their banners waved 
victorious from Bergen to Palestine — never, 
for all that the round world contains, do thou 
barter thy peace of mind for such greatness as 
Noma's." She resumed her seat upon the 
rock, drew the mantle over her face, rested her 
head upon her hands, and by the convulsive mo- 
tion which agitated her bosom, appeared to be 
weeping bitterly. 

" Good Noma," said Mordaunt, and paused, 
scarce knowing what to say that might console 
the unhappy woman — u Good Noma," he again 
resumed, " if there be aught on your mind that 
troubles it, were you not best to go to the worthy 
minister at Dunrossness ? Men say you have not 
for many years been in a Christian congregation 
— that cannot be well, or right. You are yourself 
well known as a healer of bodily disease ; but 
when the mind is sick, we should draw to the 
Physician of our souls." 


Noma had raised her person slowly from the 
stooping posture in which she sate ; but at length 
she started up on her feet, threw back her mantle, 
extended her arm, and while her lip foamed, and 
her eye sparkled, exclaimed in a tone resembling 
a scream, — " Me did you speak — me did you 
bid seek out a priest ! — Would you kill the good 
man with horror ? — Me in a Christian congrega- 
tion ! — Would you have the roof to fall on the 
sackless assembly, and mingle their blood with 
their worship ? I — I seek to the good Physi- 
cian ! — Would you have the fiend claim his prey 
openly before God and man ?" 

The extreme agitation of the unhappy speaker 
naturally led Mordaunt to the conclusion, which 
was generally adopted and accredited in that su- 
perstitious country and period. " Wretched wo- 
man," he said, " if indeed thou hast leagued thy- 
self with the Powers of Evil, why should you not 
seek even yet for repentance ? But do as thou 
wilt, I cannot, dare not, as a Christian, abide 
longer with you ; and take again your gift," he 
said, offering back the chain. " Good can never 
come of it, if indeed evil hath not come alreadv." 


" Be still and hear me, thou foolish boy," said 
Noma calmly, as if she had been restored to rea- 
son by the alarm and horror which she perceived 
in Mordaunfs countenance ; " hear me, I say. 
I am not of those who have leagued themselves 
with the Enemy of mankind, or derive skill or 
power from his ministry. And although the un- 
earthly powers were propitiated by a sacrifice 
which human tongue can never utter, yet, God 
knows, my guilt in that offering was no more than 
that of the blind man who falls from the precipice 
which he could neither see nor shun. O, leave 
me not — shun me not in this hour of weakness ! 
Remain with me till the temptation be passed, or 
I will plunge myself into that lake, and rid my- 
self at once of my power and my wretchedness." 

Mordaunt, who had always looked up to this 
singular woman with a sort of affection, occasion- 
ed no doubt by the early kindness and distinc- 
tion which she had shewn to him, was readily in- 
duced to reassume his seat, and listen to what she 
had further to say, in hopes that she would gra- 
dually overcome the violence of her agitation. 
It was not long ere she seemed to have gained the 


victory her companion expected, for she address- 
ed him in her usually steady and authoritative 

" It was not of myself, Mordaunt, that I pur- 
posed to speak, when I beheld you from the sum- 
mit of yonder grey rock, and came down the path 
to meet with you. My fortunes are fixed beyond 
change, be it for weal or for woe. For myself 
I have ceased to feel much ; but for those whom 
she loves, Noma of the Fitful-head has still those 
feelings which link her to her kind. Mark me — 
there is an eagle, the noblest that builds in these 
airy precipices, and into that eagle's nest there 
has crept an adder — wilt thou lend thy aid to 
crush the reptile, and to save the noble brood of 
the lord of the north sky ?" 

" You must speak more plainly, Noma," said 
Mordaunt, " if you would have me understand 
or answer you. I am no guesser of riddles."" 

" In plain language, then, you know well the 
family of Burgh- Westra — the lovely daughters 
of the generous old Udaller, Magnus Troil, — 
Minna and Brenda, I mean. You know them, 
and you love them.'" 


" I have known them, mother," replied Mor- 
daunt, " and I have loved them — none knows it 
better than you yourself." 

" To know them once," said Noma, emphati- 
cally, " is to know them always. — -To love them 
once, is to love them for ever." 

" To have loved them once, is to wish them 
well for ever," replied the youth ; " but it is no- 
thing more. To be plain with you, Noma, the 
family at Burgh- Westra have of late totally ne- 
glected me. But shew me the means of serving 
them ; I will convince you how much I have re- 
membered old kindness, how little I resent late 

" It is well spoken, and I will put your pur- 
pose to the proof," replied Noma. " Magnus 
Troil has taken* a serpent into his bosom — his 
lovely daughters are delivered up to the machi- 
nations of a villain." 

" You mean the stranger, Cleveland ?" said 

" The stranger who so calls himself," replied 
Noma — " the same whom we found flung ashore 
like a waste heap of sea-weed at the foot of the 


Sumburgh-cape. I felt that within me, that 
would have prompted me to let him lie till the 
tide floated him off, as it had floated him on shore. 
I repent me I gave not way to it." 

" But," said Mordaunt, " I cannot repent that 
I did my duty as a Christian man. And what right 
have I to wish otherwise ? If Minna, Brenda, 
Magnus, and the rest, like that stranger better 
than me, I have no title to be offended ; nay, I 
might well be laughed at for bringing myself in- 
to comparison." 

" It is well, and I trust they merit thy unselfish 
friendship.' 1 

u But I cannot perceive," said Mordaunt, " in 
what you can propose that I should serve them. 
I have but just learned by Bryce the jagger, that 
this Captain Cleveland is all in all with the ladies 
at Harfra, and with the Udaller himself. I 
would like ill to intrude myself where I am not 
welcome, or to place my home-bred merit in com- 
parison with Captain Cleveland's. He can tell 
them of battles, when I can only speak of birds- 
nests — can speak of shooting Frenchmen, when 

vol. i. o. 


I can only tell of shooting seals — he wears gay 
clothes, and bears a brave countenance; I am 
plainly dressed, and plainly nurtured. Such gay 
gallants as he can noose the hearts of those he 
lives with, as the fowler nooses the guillemot with 
his rod and line.'" 

" You do wrong to yourself," replied Noma, 
" wrong to yourself, and greater wrong to Minna 
and Brenda ; and trust not the reports of Bryce 
— he is like the greedy chaffer- whale, that will 
change his course and dive for the most petty 
coin which a fisher can cast at him. Certain it 
is, that if you have been lessened in the opinion 
of Magnus Troil, that sordid fellow hath had 
some share in it. But let him count his vantage, 
for my eye is upon him.'" 

" And why, mother ,*" said Mordaunt, " do 
you not tell to Magnus what you have told to 
me ?" 

" Because," replied Noma, " they who wax 
wise in their own conceit must be taught a bitter 
lesson by experience. It was but yesterday that 
I spoke with Magnus, and what was his reply ? 
— i Good Noma, you grow old. 1 And this was 

the riKATi:. 243 

spoken by one bounden to me by so many and 
such close ties — by the descendant of the ancient 
Norse earis — this was from Magnus Troil to me ; 
and it was said in behalf of one whom the sea 
flung forth as wreck-weed ! Since he despises the 
counsel of the aged, he shall be taught by that 
of the young ; and well that he is not left to his 
own folly. Go, therefore, to Burgh Westra as 
usually upon the Baptist's festival.'" 

" I have had no invitation," said Mordaunt ; 
" I am not wanted, not wished for, not thought 
of — perhaps I shall not be acknowledged if I go 
thither ; and yet, mother, to confess the truth, 
thither I had thought to go." 

" It was a good thought, and to be cherished," 
replied Noma ; " we seek our friends when they 
are sick in health, why not when they are sick in 
mind, and surfeited with prosperity ? Do not fail 
to go — it may be, we shall meet there. Mean- 
while our roads lie different. Farewell, and speak 
not of this meeting." 

They parted, and Mordaunt remained stand- 
ing by the lake, with his eyes fixed on Noma, 
until her tall dark form became invisible among 


the windings of the valley down which she wan- 
dered, and Mordaunt returned to his father's 
mansion, determined to follow counsel which co- 
incided so well with his own wishes. 



— — " All your ancient customs, 
And long descended usages, I'll change. 
Ye shall not eat nor drink, nor speak nor move, 
Think, look, or walk, as ye were wont to do ; 
Even your marriage-beds shall know mutation ; 
The bride shall have the stock, the groom the wall ; 
For all old practice will I turn and change, 
And call it reformation — marry, will I !" 

' Tls Even that we're at Odds. 

The festal day approached, and still no invi- 
tation arrived for that guest, without whom, but 
a little space since, no feast could have been held 
in the island ; while, on the other hand, such re- 
ports as reached them on every side spoke highly 
of the favour which Captain Cleveland enjoyed 
in the family of the old Udaller of Burgh Westra. 
Swertha and the old Ranzelar shook their heads 
at these mutations, and reminded Mordaunt, by 
many a half-hint and inuendo, that he had incur- 
red this eclipse by being so imprudently active 
to secure the safety of the stranger when he lay 
at the mercy of the next wave beneath the cliffs 


of Sumburgh-head. " It is best to let saut water 
take its gait," said Swertha ; " luck never came 
of crossing it." 

" In troth," said the Ranzelar, " they are wise 
folks that let wave and withy baud their ain — 
luck never came of a half-drowned man, or a 
half-hanged ane either. Who was*t shot Will 
Paterson off the Noss ? — the Dutchman that he 
saved: from sinking, I trow. To fling a drown- 
ing man a plank or a tow, may be the part of a 
Christian ; but I say keep hands aff him, if ye 
wad live and thrive free frae his danger/" 

" Ye are a wise man, Ranzelar, and a worthy,* 1 
echoed Swertha, with a groan, " and ken how 
and whan to help a neighbour, as weel as ony 
man that ever drew a net." 

" In troth, I have seen length of days," an- 
swered the Ranzelar, " and I have heard what 
the auld folk said to each other anent sic mat- 
ters; and nae man in Zetland shall go farther 
than I will in any Christian service to a man on 
firm land ; but if he cry help out of the saut 
waves, that's another story." 

" And yet, to think of this lad Cleveland 


standing in our Master Mordaunt's light,' 1 said 
Swertha, " and with Magnus Troil, that thought 
him the flower of the island but on Whitsunday 
last, and Magnus, too, that's both held (when 
he's fresh, honest man) the wisest and wealthiest 
of Zetland." 

" He canna win by it," said the Ranzelman, 
with a look of the deepest sagacity. " There's 
whiles, Swertha, that the wisest of us (as I am 
sure I humbly confess mysel) may be little better 
than gulls, and can no more win by doing deeds 
of folly than I can step over Sumburgh-head. It 
has been my own case once or twice in my life. 
But we will see soon what ill is to come of all 
this, for good there cannot come." 

And Swertha answered, with the same tone of 
prophetic wisdom, " Na, na, gude can never 
come on it, and that is ower truly said." 

These doleful predictions, repeated from time 
to time, had some effect upon MordaUnt. He did 
not indeed suppose, that the charitable action of 
relieving a drowning man had subjected him, as 
a necessary and fatal consequence, to the unplea- 


sant circumstances in which he was placed ; yet 
he felt as if a sort of spell were drawn around 
him, of which he neither understood the nature 
or the extent ; — that some power, in short, be- 
yond his own controul, was acting upon his des- 
tiny, and, as it seemed, with no friendly influence. 
His curiosity, as well as his anxiety, was highly 
excited, and he continued determined, at all events, 
to make his personal appearance at the approach- 
ing festival, when he was impressed with the be- 
lief that something uncommon was necessarily to 
take place, which should determine his future 
views and prospects in life. 

As the elder Mertoun was at this time in his 
ordinary state of health, it became necessary 
that his son should intimate to him his intended 
visit to Burgh Westra. He did so ; and his fa- 
ther desired to know the especial reason of his 
going thither at this particular time. 

" It is a time of merry-making,*" replied the 
youth ; " all the country are assembled." 

" And you are doubtless impatient to add an- 
other fool to the number. — Go — but beware how 


you walk in the path which you are about to 
tread — a fall from the cliffs of Foula were not 
more fatal." 

" May I ask the reason of your caution, sir ?" 
replied Mordaunt, breaking through the reserve 
which ordinarily subsisted betwixt him and his 
singular parent. 

" Magnus Troil," said the elder Mertoun, 
u has two daughters — you are of the age when 
men look upon such gawds with eyes of affection, 
that they may afterwards learn to curse the day 
that first opened their eyes upon heaven. I bid 
you beware of them ; for, as sure as that death 
and sin came into the world by woman, so sure 
are their soft words, and softer looks, the utter 
destruction and ruin of all who put faith in them." 

Mordaunt had sometimes observed his father's 
marked dislike to the female sex, but had never 
before heard him give vent to it in terms so de- 
termined and precise. He replied, that the daugh- 
ters of Magnus Troil were no more to him than 
any other females in the islands ; " they were 
even of less importance," he said, " for they had 


broken off their friendship with him, without as- 
signing any cause. 11 

" And you go to seek the renewal of it, 11 an- 
swered his father. " Silly moth, that hast once 
escaped the taper without singeing thy wings, 
you are not contented with the safe obscurity of 
these wilds, but must hasten back to the flame, 
which is sure at length to consume thee. Why 
should I waste arguments in deterring thee from 
thy inevitable fate ? — Go where thy destiny calls 

On the succeeding day, which was the eve of 
the great festival, Mordaunt set forth on his road 
to Burgh Westra, pondering alternately on the 
injunctions of Noma — on the ominous words of 
his father— on the inauspicious auguries of Swer- 
tha and the Ranzelar of Jarlshof — and not with- 
out experiencing that gloom with which so many 
concurring circumstances of ill omen combined to 
oppress his mind. 

" It bodes me but a cold reception at Burgh 
Westra," said he ; " but my stay shall be the 
shorter. I will but find out whether they have been 


deceived by this sea-faring stranger, or whether 
they have acted out of pure caprice of temper, 
and love of change of company. If the first be 
the case, I will vindicate my character, and let 
Captain Cleveland look to himself; — if the latter, 
why then, goodnight to Burgh Westra and all 
its inmates." 

As he mentally meditated this last alternative, 
hurt pride, and a return of fondness for those to 
whom he supposed he was bidding farewell for 
ever, brought a tear into his eye, which he dash- 
ed oif hastily and indignantly, as, mending his 
pace, he continued on his journey. 

The w r eather being now serene and undisturb- 
ed, Mordaunt made his way with an ease that 
formed a striking contrast to the difficulties which 
he had encountered when he last travelled the 
same route ; yet there was a less pleasing subject 
for comparison, within his own mind. 

" My breast," he said to himself, " was then 
against the wind, but my heart within was serene 
and happy. I would I had now the same care- 
less feelings, were they to be bought by battling 


with the severest storm that ever blew across 
these lonely hills." 

With such thoughts, he arrived about noon at 
Harfra, the habitation, as the reader may remem- 
ber, of the ingenious Mr Yellowley. Our traveller 
had, upon the present occasion, taken care to be 
quite independent of the niggardly hospitality of 
this mansion, which was now become infamous on 
that account through the whole island, by bring- 
ing with him, in his small knapsack, such provi- 
sions as might have sufficed for a longer journey. 
In courtesy, however, or rather, perhaps, to get 
rid of his own disquieting thoughts, Mordaunt did 
not fail to call at the mansion, which he found in 
singular commotion. Triptolemus himself, in- 
vested with a pair of large jack-boots, went clat- 
tering up and down stairs, screaming out ques- 
tions to his sister and his serving- woman Tronda, 
who replied with shriller and more complicated 
screeches. At length, Mrs Baby herself made 
her appearance, with her venerable person invest- 
ed in what was then called a Joseph, an ample 
garment, which had once been green, but now, 


betwixt stains and patches, had become like the 
vesture of the patriarch whose name it bore — a 
garment of divers colours. A steeple-crowned 
hat, the purchase of some long past moment, in 
which vanity had got the better of avarice, with 
a feather which had stood as much wind and rain 
as if it had been part of a sea-mew's wing, made 
up her equipment, save that in her hand she held 
a silver-mounted whip of antique fashion. This 
attire, as well as an air of determined bustle in 
the gait and appearance of Mrs Barbara Yellow- 
ley, seemed to bespeak that she was prepared to 
take a journey, and cared not, as the saying goes, 
who knew that such was her determination. 

She was the first that observed Mordaunt on 
his arrival, and she greeted him with a degree of 
mingled emotion. " Be good to us P she ex- 
claimed, " if here is not the canty callant that 
wears yon thing about his neck, and that snap- 
ped up our goose as light as if it had been a 
sandie-lavrock P The admiration of the gold 
chain, which had formerly made so deep an im- 
pression on her mind, was marked in the first part 
of her speech, the recollection of the untimely 


fate of the smoked goose was commemorated in 
the second clause. " I will lay the burthen of 
my life," she instantly added, " that he is gang- 
ing our gate. 1 ' 

" I am bound for Burgh Westra, Mrs Yellow- 
ley ," said Mordaunt. 

" And blithe will we be of your company ," 
she added — " it's early day to eat ; but if you 
liked a barley scone and a drink of bland — na- 
theless, it is ill travelling on a full stomach, be- 
sides quelling your appetite for the feast that is 
biding you this day ; for all sort of prodigality 
there will doubtless be." 

Mordaunt produced his own stores, and, ex- 
plaining that he did not love to be burthensome 
to them on this second occasion, invited them to 
partake of the provisions he had to offer. Poor 
Triptolemus, who seldom saw half so good a din- 
ner as his guest's luncheon, threw himself upon the 
good cheer, like Sancho on the scum of Camacho's 
kettle, and even the lady herself could not resist 
the temptation, though she gave way to it with 
more moderation, and with something like a sense 

of shame. " She had let the fire put,' 1 she said, 


" for it was a pity wasting fuel in so cold a 
country, and so she had not thought of getting 
any thing ready, as they were to set out so soon ; 
and so she could not but say, that the young 
gentleman's nacJcct looked very good ; and besides, 
she had some curiosity to see whether the folks 
in this country cured their beef in the same way 
they did in the north of Scotland." Under which 
combined considerations, Dame Baby made a 
hearty experiment on the refreshments which 
thus unexpectedly presented themselves. 

When their extemporary repast was finished, 
the factor became solicitous to take the road ; and 
now Mordaunt discovered, that the alacrity with 
which he had been received by Mistress Baby 
was not altogether disinterested. Neither she nor 
the learned Triptolemus felt much disposed to 
commit themselves to the wilds of Zetland, with- 
out the assistance of a guide ; and although they 
could have commanded the assistance of one of 
their own labouring folks, yet the cautious agri- 
culturist observed, that it would be losing at 
least one day's work ; and his sister multiplied 
his apprehensions by echoing back, u One day's 


work ? — ye may weel say twenty — for, set ane of 
their noses within the smell of a kail-pot, and 
their lugs within the sound of a fiddle, and whistle 
them back if ye can.'" 

Now the fortunate arrival of Mordaunt, in the 
very nick of time, not to mention the good cheer 
which he brought with him, made him as wel- 
come as any one could possibly be to a thresh- 
hold, which, on all ordinary occasions, abhorred 
the passage of a guest ; nor was Mr Yeliowley 
altogether insensible of the pleasure he promised 
himself in detailing his plans of improvement to 
his young companion, and enjoying what his fate 
seldom assigned him — the company of a patient 
and admiring listener. 

As the factor and his sister were to prosecute 
their journey on horseback, it only remained to 
mount their guide and companion — a thing easi- 
ly accomplished, where there are such numbers 
of shaggy, long-backed, short-legged ponies run- 
ning wild upon the extensive moors, which are 
the common pasturage for the cattle of every 
township, where shelties, geese, swine, goats, 
sheep, and little Zetland cows, are turned out 


promiscuously, and often in numbers which can 
obtain but precarious subsistence from the nig- 
gard vegetation. There is, indeed, a right of in- 
dividual property in all these animals, which are 
branded or tattooed by each owner with his own 
peculiar mark ; but when any passenger has oc- 
casional use for a poney, he never scruples to lay 
hold of the first which he can catch, puts on a 
halter, and, having rode him as far as he finds 
convenient, turns the animal loose to find his way 
back again as he best can — a matter in which the 
ponies are sufficiently sagacious. 

Although this general exercise of property was 
one of the enormities which in due time the fac- 
tor intended to abolish, yet, like a wise man, he 
scrupled not, in the meantime, to avail himself of 
so general a practice, which, he condescended to 
allow, was particularly convenient for those who, 
(as chanced to be his own present case,) had no 
ponies of their own on which their neighbours 
could retaliate. Three shelties, therefore, were 
procured from the hill — little shagged animals, 
more resembling wild bears than any thing of the 
horse tribe, yet possessed of no small degree of 
VOL. i. it 


strength and spirit, and able to endure as much 
fatigue and indifferent usage as any creatures in 
the world. 

Two of these horses were already provided 
and fully accoutred for the journey. One of them, 
destined to bear the fair person of Mistress Baby, 
was decorated with a huge side-saddle of vene- 
rable antiquity — a mass, as it were, of cushion 
and padding, from which depended, on all sides, 
a housing of ancient tapestry, which, having been 
originally intended for a horse of ordinary size, 
covered up the diminutive palfrey over whom it 
was spread, from the ears to the tail, and from 
the shoulder to the fetlock, leaving nothing visi- 
ble but its head, which looked fiercely out from 
these enfoldments, like the heraldric representa- 
tion of a lion looking out of a bush. Mordaunt 
gallantly lifted up the fair Mistress Yellowley, 
and, at the expence of very slight exertion, placed 
her upon the summit of her mountainous saddle. 
It is probable, that, on feeling herself thus squi- 
red and attended upon, and experiencing the long 
unwonted consciousness that she was attired in 
her best array, some thoughts dawned upon Mis- 
tress Baby's mind, which chequered, for an in- 


stant, those habitual ideas about thrift, that form- 
ed the daily and all-engrossing occupation of 
her soul. She glanced her eye upon her faded 
Joseph, and on the long housings of her saddle, 
as she observed, with a smile, to Mordaunt, that 
" travelling was a pleasant thing in fine weather 
and agreeable company, if," she added, glancing 
a look at a place where the embroidery was some- 
what frayed and tattered, " it was not sae waste- 
ful to ane's horse-furniture." 

Meanwhile, her brother stepped stoutly to his 
steed ; and as he chose, notwithstanding the se- 
renity of the weather, to throw a long red cloak 
over his other garments, his poney was even more 
completely enveloped in drapery than that of his 
sister. It happened, moreover, to be an animal 
of an high and contumacious spirit, bouncing and 
curvetting occasionally under the weight of Trip? 
tolemus, with a vivacity which, notwithstanding 
his Yorkshire descent, rather deranged him in 
the saddle ; — gambols which, as the palfrey itself 
was not visible, except upon the strictest inspec- 
tion, had, at a little distance, an effect as if they 
were the voluntary movements of the cloaked ca- 


valier, without the assistance of any other legs 
than those with which nature had provided him ; 
and, to any who had viewed Triptolemus under 
such a persuasion, the gravity, and even distress, 
announced in his countenance, must have made a 
ridiculous contrast to the vivacious caprioles with 
which he piaffed along the moor. 

Mordaunt kept up with this worthy couple, 
mounted, according to the simplicity of the time 
and country, on the first and readiest poney whicli 
they had been able to press into the service, with 
no other accoutrement of any kind than the hal- 
ter which served to guide him ; while Mr Yel- 
lowley, seeing with pleasure his guide thus rea- 
dily provided with a steed, privately resolved, 
that this rude custom of helping travellers to 
horses, without leave of the proprietor, should 
not be abated in Zetland, until he came to possess 
a herd of ponies belonging in property to himself, 
and exposed to suffer in the way of retaliation. 

But to other uses or abuses of the country, 
Triptolemus Yellowley shewed himself less to- 
lerant. Long and wearisome were the discourses 
he held with Mordaunt, or, (to speak much more 


correctly,) the harangues which he inflicted upon 
him, concerning the changes which his own ad- 
vent in these isles was about to occasion. Un- 
skilled as he was in the modern arts by which an 
estate may be improved to such a high degree that 
it shall altogether slip through the proprietor's fin- 
gers, Triptolemus had at least the zeal, if not the 
knowledge, of a whole agricultural society in his 
own person ; nor was he surpassed by any who 
has followed him, in that noble spirit which scorns 
to balance profit against outlay, but holds the 
glory of effecting a great change on the face of 
the land, to be, like virtue, in a great degree its 
own reward. 

No part of the wild and mountainous region 
over which Mordaunt guided him but what sug- 
gested to his active imagination some scheme of 
improvement and alteration. He would make a 
road through yon scarce passable glen, where at 
present nothing but the sure-footed creatures on 
which they were mounted could tread with any 
safety. He would substitute better houses for 
the skeoes, or sheds built of dry stones, in which 
the inhabitants cured or manufactured their fish 
— they should brew good ale instead of bland-^ 


they should plant forests where tree never grew, 
and find mines of treasure where a Danish skilling 
was accounted a coin of a most respectable deno- 
mination. All these mutations, with many others, 
did the worthy factor resolve upon, speaking at 
the same time with the utmost confidence of the 
countenance and assistance which he was to re- 
ceive from the higher classes, and especially from 
Magnus Troil. 

" I will impart some of my "deas to the poor 
man, 1 ' he said, " before we are both many hours 
older ; and you will mark how grateful he will 
be to the man who brings him knowledge, which 
is better than wealth. ,, 

w I would not have you build too strongly on 
that," said Mordaunt, by way of caution ; " Mag- 
nus Tro'iPs boat is kittle to trim — he likes his 
own ways, and his country-ways, and you will as 
soon teach your sheltie to dive like a sealgh, as 
bring Magnus to take a Scottish fashion in the 
place of a Norse- one ; — and yet, if he is steady to 
his old customs, he may perhaps be as change- 
able as another in his old friendships." 

" Heus tu, inepte P said the scholar of Saint 
Andrews, " steady or unsteady, what can it mat- 


ter ? — am not I here in point of trust, and in point 
of power ? and shall aFowde, by which barbarous 
appellative this Magnus Troil still calls himself, 
presume to measure judgment and weigh reasons 
with me, who represent the full dignity of the 
Chamberlain of the islands of Orkney and Zet- 

" Still," said Mordaunt, " I would advise you 
not to advance too rashly upon his prejudices. 
Magnus Troil, from the hour of his birth to this 
day, never saw a greater man than himself, and 
it is difficult to bridle an old horse for the first 
time. Besides, he has at no time in his life been 
a patient listener to long explanations, so it is 
possible that he may quarrel with your proposed 
reformation, before you can convince him of its 

f* How mean you, young man ?" said the fac- 
tor. — " Is there one who dwells in these islands, 
who is so wretchedly blind as not to be sensible 
of their deplorable defects ? Can a man," he add- 
ed, rising into enthusiasm as he spoke, " or 
even a beast, look at that thing there, which they 
have the impudence to call a corn-mill, without 


trembling to think that corn should be entrusted 
to such a miserable molendinary ? The wretches 
are obliged to have at least fifty in each parish, 
each trundling away upon its paltry mill-stone, 
under the thatch of a roof no bigger than a bee- 
skep, instead of a noble and seemly baron's mill, 
that you would hear the clack of through the 
haili country ; and that casts the meal through 
the mill-eye by forpits at a time." 

" Ay, ay, brother," said his sister, " that's 
spoken like your wise sell. The mair cost the 
mair honour— that's your word ever mair. Can 
it no creep into your wise head, man, that ilka 
body grinds their ain nievefu 1 of meal, in this 
country, without plaguing themselves about ba- 
ron's mills, and thirls, and sucken, and the like 
trade ? How mony a time have I heard you bell- 
the-cat with auld Edie Happer, the miller at 
Grindleburn, and wi 1 his very knave too, about 
in-town and out-town multures — lock, gowpen, 
and knaveship, and a' the lave o't ; and now nae- 
thing less will serve you than to bring in the 
very same fashery on a wheen puir bodies, that 
big ilk ane a mill for themselves, sic as it is. 1 ' 


" Dinna tell me of gowpen and knaveship P 
exclaimed the indignant agriculturist ; " bet- 
ter pay the half the grist to the miller, to have 
the rest grund in a Christian manner, than put 
good grain into a bairn's whirligig. Look at it 
for a moment, Baby — Bide still, ye cursed imp P 
This interjection was applied to his poney, which 
began to be extremely impatient, while its rider 
interrupted his journey, to point out all the weak 
points of the Zetland mill — " look at it, I say — • 
it's just one degree better than a hand-quern — i 
it has neither wheel nor trindle — neither cog nor 
happer — Bide still, there's a canny beast — it can- 
na grind a bickerfu 1 of meal in a quarter of an 
hour, and that will be mair like a mash for horse 
than a meltith for man's use — Wherefore — Bide 
still, I say — wherefore — wherefore — The deil's in 
the beast, and nae good, I think P 1 — 

As he uttered the last words, the sheltie, which 
had pranced and curvetted for some time with 
much impatience, at length got its head betwixt 
its legs, and at once canted its rider into the little 
rivulet, which served to drive the depreciated 
engine he was surveying ; then emancipating it- 


self from the folds of the cloak, fled back towards 
its own wilderness, neighing in scorn, and fling- 
ing out its heels at every five yards. 

Laughing heartily at his disaster, Mordaunt 
helped the old man to arise ; while his sister 
sarcastically congratulated him on having fallen 
rather into the shallows of a Zetland rivulet than 
the depths of a Scottish mill-pond. Disdaining 
to reply to this sarcasm, Triptolemus, so soon as 
he had recovered his legs, shaken his ears, and 
found that the folds of his cloak had saved him 
from being much wet in the scanty streamlet, ex- 
claimed aloud, M I will have cussers from Lan- 
arkshire — brood mares from Ayrshire — I will not 
have one of these cursed abortions left on the 
islands, to break honest folks'' necks — I say, Ba- 
by, I will rid the land of them. 1 " 

" Ye had better wring your ain cloak, Tripto- 
lemus," answered Baby. 

Mordaunt meanwhile was employed in catch- 
ing another poney, from a herd which strayed at 
some distance ; and, having made a halter out of 
twisted rushes, he seated the dismayed agricul- 
turist in safety upon a more quiet, though less 



active poney, than that which he had at first be- 

But Mr Yellowley's fall had operated as a con- 
siderable sedative upon his spirits, and, for the 
full space of five miles' 1 travel, he said scarce a 
word, leaving full course to the melancholy aspi- 
rations and lamentations which his sister Baby 
bestowed on the old bridle, which the poney had 
carried off in its flight, and which, she observed, 
after having lasted for eighteen years come Mar- 
tinmas, might be now considered as a cast-a-way 
thing. Finding she had thus the field to herself, 
the old lady launched forth into a lecture upon 
economy, according to her own idea of that vir- 
tue, which seemed to include a system of priva- 
tions, which, though observed with the sole pur- 
pose of saving money, might, if undertaken upon 
other principles, have ranked high in the history 
of a religious ascetic. 

She was but little interrupted by Mordaunt, 
who, conscious he was now on the eve of ap- 
proaching Burgh Westra, employed himself ra- 
ther in the task of anticipating the nature of 
the reception he was about to meet with there 


from two beautiful young women, than with the 
prosing of an old one, however wisely she might 
prove that small-beer was more wholesome than 
strong ale ; and that if her brother had bruised 
his ankle-bone in his tumble, cumfrey and butter 
was better to bring him round again, than all the 
doctor's drugs in the world. 

But now the dreary moorlands, over which 
their path had hitherto lain, were exchanged for 
a more pleasant prospect, opening on a salt-wa- 
ter lake, or arm of the sea, which ran up far 
inland, and was surrounded by flat and fertile 
ground, producing crops better than the expe- 
rienced eye of Triptolemus Yellowley had as 
yet witnessed in Zetland. In the midst of this 
Goshen stood the mansion of Burgh-YVestra, 
screened from the north and east by a ridge of 
heathy hills which lay behind it, and commanding 
an interesting prospect of the lake and its parent 
ocean, as well as the islands, and more distant 
mountains. From the mansion itself, as well as 
from almost every cottage in the adjacent ham- 
let, arose such a rich cloud of vapoury smoke, as 
shewed, that the preparations for the festival 

THE PIRATE. 52(39 

were not confined to the principal residence of 
Magnus himself, but extended through the whole 

" My certie,"" said Mistress Baby Yellowley, 
" ane wad think the haill town was on fire I The 
very hill-side smells of their wastefulness, and a 
hungry heart wad scarce seek better kitchen to a 
barley scone, than just to waft it in the reek that's 
rising out of yon lums." 



i Thou hast described 

A hot friend cooling. Ever note, Lucilius, 
When love begins to sicken and decay, 
It useth an enforced ceremony. 
There are no tricks in plain and simple faith. 

Julius Ccesar. 

If the smell which was wafted from the chim- 
nies of Burgh-Westra up to the barren hills by 
which the mansion was surrounded, could, as 
Mistress Barbara opined, have refreshed the hun- 
gry, the noise which proceeded from thence might 
have given hearing to the deaf. It was a med- 
ley of all sounds, and all connected with jollity 
and kind welcome. Nor were the rites connect- 
ed with them less animating. 

Troops of friends were seen in the act of arri- 
ving — their dispersed ponies flying to the moors 
in every direction, to recover their own pastures 
in the best way they could ; — such, as we have al- 


ready said, being the usual mode of discharging 
the cavalry which had been levied for a day's ser- 
vice. At a small but commodious harbour, con- 
nected with the house and hamlet, those visitors 
were landing from their boats, who, living m 
distant islands, and along the coast, had prefer- 
red making their journey by sea. Pausing fre- 
quently to greet each other, Mordaunt and his 
companions might see each party strolling on suc- 
cessively to the house, whose ever open gate re- 
ceived them alternately in such numbers, that it 
seemed the extent of the mansion, though suited 
to the opulence and hospitality of the owner, was 
scarce, on this occasion, sufficient for the guests. 
Amongst the confused sounds of mirth and 
welcome which arose at the entrance of each new 
company, Mordaunt thought he could distin- 
guish the loud laugh and hearty salutation of the 
sire of the mansion, and began to feel more deep- 
ly than before, the anxious doubt, whether that 
cordial reception, which was distributed so free- 
ly to all others, would be on this occasion ex- 
tended to him. As they came on, they heard 
the voluntary scrapings and bravura effusions 
of the gallant fiddlers, who impatiently flung 


already from their bows those sounds with which 
they were to animate the evening. The clamour 
of the cook's assistants, and the loud scolding 
tones of the cook himself, were also to be heard 
—sounds of dissonauce at any other time, but 
which, subdued with others, and by certain hap- 
py associations, form no disagreeable part of the 
full chorus which always precedes a rural feast. 
Meanwhile, the guests advanced, full each of 
their own thoughts. Mordaunfs we have alrea- 
dy noticed. Baby was wrapt up in the melan- 
choly grief and surprise excited by the positive 
conviction, that so much victuals had been cook- 
ed at once as were necessary to feed all the mouths 
which were clamouring around her — an enormi- 
ty of expence, which, though she was no way con- 
cerned in bearing it, affected her nerves, as the 
beholding a massacre would touch those of the 
most indifferent spectator, however well assured 
of his own personal safety. She sickened, in short, 
at the sight of so much extravagance, like Abys- 
sinian Bruce, when he saw the luckless minstrels 
of Gondar hacked to pieces by the order of Has 
Michael. As for her brother, they being now ar- 



rived where the rude and antique instruments of 
Zetland agriculture lay scattered in the usual 
confusion of a Scottish barn-yard, his thoughts 
were at once engrossed in the deficiencies of the 
one-stilted plough — of the twiscar, with which 
they dig peats — of the sledges, on which they 
transport commodities— of all and every thing, in 
short, in which the usages of the islands differed 
from that of the main land of Scotland. The sight 
of these imperfect instruments stirred the blood of 
Triptolemus Yellowley, as that of the bold war- 
rior rises at seeing the arms and insignia of the 
enemy with whom he is about to combat ; and, 
faithful to his high emprize, he thought less of 
the hunger which his journey had occasioned, al- 
though about to be satisfied by such a dinner as 
rarely fell to his lot, than upon the task which 
he had undertaken, of civilizing the manners, and 
improving the cultivation, of Zetland. 

" Jacta est cilea? he muttered to himself, 
" this very day shall prove whether the Zetland- 
ers are worthy of our labours, or whether their 
minds are as incapable of cultivation as their 

vol. i. s 


peat-mosses. Yet let us be cautious, and watch 
the soft time of speech. I feel, by my own ex- 
perience, that it were best to let the body, in its 
present state, take the place of the mind. A 
mouthful of that same roast beef, which smells 
so delicately, will form an apt introduction to my 
grand plan for improving the breed of stock." 

By this time the visitors had reached the low 
but ample front of Magnus TroiVs residence, 
which seemed of various dates, with large and ill- 
contrived additions, hastily adapted to the original 
building, as the increasing estate, or enlarged fa- 
mily, of successive proprietors, appeared to each 
to demand. Beneath a low, broad, and large porch, 
supported by two huge carved posts, once the head- 
ornaments of vessels which had found shipwreck 
upon the coast, stood Magnus himself, intent on 
the hospitable toil of receiving and welcoming the 
numerous guests who successively approached. 
His strong portly figure was well adapted to the 
dress which he wore — a blue coat of an antique 
cut, lined with scarlet, and laced and looped with 
gold down the seams and button-holes, and along 
the ample cuffs. Strong and masculine features. 


rendered ruddy and brown by frequent exposure 
to severe weather — a quantity of most venerable 
silver hair, which fell in unshorn profusion from 
under his gold-laced hat, and was carelessly tied 
with a ribband behind, expressed at once his ad- 
vanced age, his hasty, yet well-conditioned tem- 
per, and his robust constitution. As our travel- 
lers approached him, a shade of displeasure seem- 
ed to cross his brow, and to interrupt for an in- 
stant the honest and hearty burst of hilarity with 
which he had been in the act of greeting all prior 
arrivals. When he approached Triptolemus Yel- 
lowley, he drew himself up, so as to mix, as it 
were, some share of the stately importance of the 
opulent Udaller with the welcome afforded by 
the frank and hospitable landlord. 

" You are welcome, Mr Yellowley," was his 
address to the factor ; " you are welcome to 
Westra— the wind has blown you on a rough 
coast, and we that are the natives must be kind 
to you as we can. This, I believe, is your sister 
— Mistress Barbara Yellowley, pennit me the 
honour of a neighbourly salute." — And so say- 
ing, with a daring and self-devoted courtesy, 


which would find no equal in our degenerate 
days, he actually ventured to salute the withered 
cheek of the spinstress, who relaxed so much of 
her usual peevishness of expression, as to receive 
the courtesy with something which approached 
to a smile. He then looked full at Mordaunt 
Mertoun, and, without offering his hand, said, 
in a tone somewhat broken by suppressed agita- 
tion, " You too are welcome, Master Mordaunt." 

" Did I not think so, 11 said Mordaunt, natu- 
rally offended by the coldness of his hosfs man- 
ner, " I had not been here — and it is not yet too 
late to turn back." 

" Young man," replied Magnus, " you know 
better than most, that from these doors no man 
can turn, without an offence to their owner. I 
pray you, disturb not my guests by your ill-timed 
scruples. When Magnus Troil says welcome, all 
are welcome who are within hearing of his voice, 
and it is an indifferent loud one. — Walk on, my 
worthy guests, and let us see what cheer my lasses 
can make you within doors." 

So saying, and taking care to make his man- 
ner so general to the whole party, that Mordaunt 


should not be able to appropriate any particular 
portion of the welcome to himself, nor yet to com- 
plain of being excluded from all share in it, the 
Udaller ushered the guests into his house, where 
two large outer rooms, which, on the present oc- 
casion, served the purpose of a modern saloon, 
were already crowded with guests of every de- 

The furniture was sufficiently simple, and had 
a character peculiar to the situation of these stormy 
islands. Magnus Troil was, indeed, like most of 
the higher class of Zetland proprietors, a friend 
to the distressed traveller, whether by sea or land, 
and had repeatedly exerted his whole authority 
in protecting the property and persons of ship- 
wrecked mariners ; yet so frequent were wrecks 
upon that tremendous coast, and so many unap- 
propriated articles were constantly flung ashore, 
that the interior of the house bore sufficient wit- 
ness to the ravages of the ocean, and to the ex- 
ercise of those rights which the lawyers term 
Flotsome and Jet some. The chairs, which were 
arranged around the walls, were such as are used 
in cabins, and many of them were of foreign con- 


struction ; the mirrors and cabinets, which were 
placed against the walls for ornament or conve- 
nience, had, it was plain from their form, been 
constructed for ship-board, and one or two of the 
latter were of strange and unknown wood. Even 
the partition which separated the two apartments, 
seemed constructed out of the bulk-heads of some 
large vessel, clumsily adapted to the service which 
it at present performed, by the labour of some na- 
tive joiner. To a stranger, these evident marks and 
tokens of human misery might, at the first glance, 
form a contrast with the scene of mirth with which 
they were now associated ; but to the natives, the 
association was so familiar, that it did not for a 
moment interrupt the course of their glee. 

To the younger part of these revellers the pre- 
sence of Mordaunt was like a fresh charm of en- 
joyment. All came around him to marvel at his 
absence, and all, by their repeated inquiries, plain- 
ly shewed that they conceived it had been entirely 
voluntary on his side. The youth felt that this 
general acceptation relieved his anxiety on one 
painful point. Whatever prejudice the family of 
Burgh Westra might have adopted respecting 


him, it must be of a private nature ; and at least 
he had not the additional pain of finding that he 
was depreciated in the eyes of society at large ; 
and his vindication, when he found opportunity 
to make one, would not require to be extended 
beyond the circle of a single family. This was 
consoling ; though his heart still throbbed with 
anxiety at the thought of meeting with his estran- 
ged, but still beloved friends. Laying the excuse 
of his absence on his father's state of health, 
he made his way through the various groupes 
of friends and guests, each of whom seemed will- 
ing to detain him as long as possible, and having 
got rid of his travelling companions, who at first 
stuck fast as burs, by presenting them to one or 
two families of consequence, he reached at length 
the door of a small apartment, which, opening 
from one of the large exterior rooms we have 
mentioned, Minna and Brenda had been permit- 
ted to fit up after their own taste, and to call their 
peculiar property. 

Mordaunt had contributed no small share of 
the invention and mechanical execution employ- 
ed in fitting up this favourite apartment, and in 


disposing its ornaments. It was, indeed, during 
his last residence at Burgh Westra, as free to his 
entrance and occupation, as to its proper mis- 
tresses. But now, so much were times altered, 
that he remained with his finger on the latch, un- 
certain whether he should take the freedom to 
draw it, until Brenda's voice pronounced the 
words " Come in then," in the tone of one who is 
interrupted by an unwelcome disturber, who is to 
be heard and dispatched with all the speed pos- 

At this signal, Mertoun entered the fanciful 
cabinet of the sisters, which, by the addition 
of many ornaments, including some articles of 
considerable value, had been fitted up for the ap- 
proaching festival. The daughters of Magnus, 
at the moment of Mordaunfs entrance, were seat- 
ed in deep consultation with the stranger Cleve- 
land, and with a little slight-made old man, whose 
eye retained all the vivacity of spirit, which had 
supported him under the thousand vicissitudes of 
a changeful and precarious life, and which, accom- 
panying him in his old age, rendered his grey 
hairs less awfully reverend perhaps, but not less 


beloved, than would a more grave and less imagi- 
native expression of countenance and character. 
There was even a penetrating shrewdness mingled 
in the look of curiosity, with which, as he stepped 
for an instant aside, he seemed to watch the meet- 
ing of Mordaunt with the two lovely sisters. 

The reception the youth met with resembled, in 
general character, that which he had experienced 
from Magnushimself ; but the maidens could not 
so well cover their sense of the change of circum- 
stances under which they met. Both blushed, as 
rising, and without extending the hand, far less of- 
fering the cheek, as the fashion of the times per- 
mitted, and almost exacted, they paid to Mordaunt 
the salutation due to an ordinary acquaintance. 
But the blush of the elder was one of those tran- 
sient evidences of flitting emotion, that vanish as 
fast as the passing thought which excites them. 
In an instant she stood before Mordaunt calm 
and cold, returning, with guarded and cautious 
courtesy, the usual civilities, which, with a faul- 
tering voice, Mordaunt endeavoured to present to 
her. The emotion of Brenda bore, externally at 
least, a deeper and more agitating character. Her 


blush extended over every part of her beautiful 
skin which her dress permitted to be visible, in- 
cluding her slender neck, and the upper region of 
a finely formed bosom. Neither did she even at- 
tempt to reply to what share of his confused com- 
pliment Mordaunt addressed to her in particular, 
but regarded him with eyes, in which displeasure 
was evidently mingled with feelings of regret, and 
recollections of former times. Mordaunt felt, as 
it were, assured upon the instant, that the regard 
of Minna was extinguished, but that it might be 
yet possible to recover that of the milder Brenda ; 
and such is the waywardness of human fancy, 
that though he had never hitherto made any dis- 
tinct difference betwixt these two beautiful and 
interesting girls, the favour of her, which seemed 
most absolutely withdrawn, became at the mo- 
ment the most interesting in his eyes. 

He was disturbed in these hasty reflections by 
Cleveland, who advanced, with military frank- 
ness, to pay his compliments to his preserver, 
having only delayed long enough to permit the 
exchange of the ordinary salutation betwixt the 
visitor and the ladies of the family. He made 


his approach with so good a grace, that it was 
impossible for Mordaunt, although he dated the 
loss of favour at Burgh Westra from this stran- 
ger's appearance on the coast, and domestication 
in the family, to do less than return his advances 
as courtesy demanded, accept his thanks with an 
appearance of satisfaction, and hope that his time 
had past pleasantly since their last meeting. 

Cleveland was about to answer, when he was 
anticipated by the little old man, formerly noti- 
ced, who now, thrusting himself forward, and 
seizing Mordaunt's hand, kissed him on the fore- 
head ; and then at the same time echoed and 
answered his question — " How passes time at 
Burgh Westra ? Was it you that asked it, my 
prince of the cliff and of the scaur ? How should 
it pass, but with all the wings that beauty and 
joy can add to help its flight !* 

" And wit and song, too, my good old friend,'" 
said Mordaunt, half-serious, half-jesting, as he 
shook the old man cordially by the hand. — 
" These cannot be wanting, where Claud Halcro 
comes !" 


" Jeer me not, Mordaunt, my good lad," re- 
plied the old man ; " When your foot is as slow- 
as mine, your wit frozen, and your song out of 
tune " 

" How can you belie yourself, my good mas- 
ter ??. answered Mordaunt, who was not unwilling 
to avail himself of his old friend's peculiarities to 
introduce something like conversation, break the 
awkwardness of this singular meeting, and gain 
time for observation, ere requiring an explanation 
of the change of conduct which the family seem^ 
ed to have adopted towards him. " Say not so," 
he continued. " Time, my old friend, lays his 
hand lightly on the bard. Have I not heard 
you say, the poet partakes the immortality of 
the song ? and surely the great English poet, 
you used to tell us of, was elder than yourself 
when he pulled the bow-oar among all the wits 
of London." 

This alluded to a story which was, as the 
French term it, Halcro's cheval de battaille, and 
any allusion to which was certain at once to place 
him in the saddle, and to push his hobby-horse 
into full career. 


His laughing eye kindled with a sort of en- 
thusiasm, which the ordinary folks of this world 
might have called crazed, while he dashed into 
the subject which he best loved to talk upon. 
" Alas, alas ! my dear Mordaunt Mertoun — sil- 
ver is silver, and waxes not dim by use — and 
pewter is pewter, and grows the longer the dull- 
er. It is not for poor Claud Halcro to name 
himself in the same twelvemonth with the im- 
mortal John Dry den. True it is, as I may have 
told you before, that I have seen that great man, 
nay I have been in the Wits 1 Coffee-house, as it 
was then called, and had once a pinch out of his 
own very snuff-box. I must have told you all 
how it happened, but here is Captain Cleveland 
who never heard it. — I lodged, you must know, 
in Russel-street. I question not but you know 
Russel-street, Covent-Garden, Captain Cleve- 
land r 

" I should know its latitude pretty well, Mr 
Halcro," said the Captain, smiling ; " but I be- 
lieve you mentioned the circumstance yesterday, 
and besides we have the day^ duty in hand — you 
must play us this song which we are to study." 


" It will not serve the turn now," said Halcro, 
" we must think of something that will take in 
our dear Mordaunt, the first voice in the island, 
whether for a part or solo. I will never be he 
will touch a string to you, unless Mordaunt Mer- 
toun is to help us out. — What say you, my fair- 
est Night ? — what think you, my sweet Dawn of 
Day?'" he added, addressing the young women, 
upon whom, as we have said elsewhere, he had 
long before bestowed these allegorical names. 

" Mr Mordaunt Mertoun," said Minna, " has 
come too late to be of our band on this occasion 
— it is our misfortune, but it cannot be helped." 

* How ? what ?" said Halcro, hastily — " too 
late — and you have practised together all your 
lives — take my word, my bonny lasses, that old 
tunes are sweetest, and old friends surest. Mr 
Cleveland has a fine bass, that must be allowed ; 
but I would have you trust for the first effect to 
one of the twenty fine airs you can sing where 
Mordaunt's tenor joins so well with your own 
witchery — here is my lovely Day approves of the 
change in her heart." 

" You were never in your life more mistaken, 


father Halcro," said Brenda, her cheeks again 
reddening, more with displeasure, it seemed, than 
with shame. 

" Nay, but how is this r" said the old man, 
pausing, and looking at them alternately. " What 
have we got here ?— a cloudy night and a red 
morning ? — that betokens rough weather — What 
means all this, young women ? — where lies the 
offence P-^-In me, I fear ; for the blame is always 
laid upon the oldest when young folks like you 
go by the ears. 1 ' 

" The blame is not with you, father Halcro," 
said Minna, rising, and taking her sister by the 
arm, " if indeed there be blame any where." 

" I should fear then, Minna,'" said Mordaunt, 
endeavouring to soften his tone into one of in- 
different pleasantry, " that the new comer has 
brought the offence along with him." 

" When no offence is taken,' 1 replied Minna, 
with her usual gravity, " it matters not by whom 
such may have been offered." 

" Is it possible, Minna !" exclaimed Mordaunt, 
"and is it you who speak thus to me ? — And you 
too, Brenda, can you too judge so hardly ^of me ; 

288 THE V I RATE. 

yet without permitting me one moment of honest 
and frank explanation r" 

" Those who should know best," answered 
Brenda, in a low but decisive tone of voice, " have 
told us their pleasure, and it must be done. — Sis- 
ter, I think we have staid too long here, and will 
be wanted elsewhere — Mr Mertoun will excuse 
us on so busy a day." 

The sisters linked their arms together. Halcro 
in vain endeavoured to stop them, making, at the 
same time, a theatrical gesture, and exclaiming, 

" Now, Day and Night, but this is wondrous strange !" 

Then turned to Mordaunt Mertoun, and added, 
— " The girls are possessed with the spirit of 
mutability, shewing, as our master Spenser well 
saith, that 

f Among all living creatures, more or lesse, 
Change still doth reign, and keep the greater sway.* 

Captain Cleveland," he continued, " know you 
any thing that has happened to put these two ju- 
venile graces out of tune ?" 

" He will lose his reckoning," answered Cleve- 
land, " that spends time in inquiring why the 


wind shifts a point, or why a woman changes her 
mind. Were I Mr Mordaunt, I would not ask 
the proud wenches another question on such a 

M It is a friendly advice, Captain Cleveland, 11 
replied Mordaunt, " and I will not hold it the 
less so that it has been given unasked. Allow 
me to inquire if you are yourself as indifferent to 
the opinion of your female friends as it seems you 
would have me to be ?" 

" Who, I ?" said the Captain, with an air of 
frank indifference. " I never thought twice upon 
such a subject. I never saw a woman worth think- 
ing twice about after the anchor was a-peak — 
on shore it is another thing ; and I will laugh, 
sing, dance, and love, if they like it, with twenty 
girls, were they but half so pretty as those who 
have left us, and make them heartily welcome to 
change their course in the sound of a boatswain's 
whistle. It will be odds but I wear as fast as 
they can.'" 

A patient is seldom pleased with that sort of 
consolation which is founded on holding light the 

vol. I. T 


malady of which he complains ; and Mordaunt 
felt disposed to be offended with Captain Cleve- 
land, both for taking notice of his embarrass- 
ment, and intruding upon him his own opinion ; 
and he replied, therefore, somewhat sharply, 
" that Captain Cleveland's sentiments were only 
suited to such as had the art to become universal 
favourites wherever chance happened to throw 
them, and who could not lose in one place more 
than their merit was sure to gain for them in 

This was spoken ironically ; but there was, to 
confess the truth, a superior knowledge of the 
world, and a consciousness of external merit at 
least about the man, which rendered his inter- 
ference doubly disagreeable. As Sir Lucius 
O 1 Trigger says, there was an air of success about 
Captain Cleveland which was mighty provoking. 
Young, handsome, and well assured, his air of 
nautical bluntness sate naturally and easily upon 
him, and was perhaps particularly well fitted to 
the simple manners of the remote country in 
which he found himself; and where, even in the 
best families, a greater degree of refinement 


might have rendered his conversation rather less 
acceptable. He was contented, in the present 
instance, to smile good-humouredly at the ob- 
vious discontent of Mordaunt Mertoun, and re- 
plied, " You are angry with me, my good friend, 
but you cannot make me angry with you. The 
fair hands of all the pretty women I ever saw 
in my life would never have fished me up out of 
the roost of Sumburgh. So pray do not quar- 
rel with me ; for here is Mr Halcro witness that 
I have struck both jack and topsail, and should 
you fire a broadside into me, cannot return a 
single shot." 

" Ay, ay," said Halcro, " you must be friends 
with Captain Cleveland, Mordaunt. Never quar- 
rel with your friend, because a woman is whim- 
sical. Why, man, if they kept one humour, how 
the devil could we make so many songs on them 
as we do? Even old Dryden himself, glorious 
old John, could have said little about a girl that 
was always of one mind — as well write verses 
upon a mill-pond. It is your tides and your 
roosts, and your currents and eddies, that come 
and go, and ebb and flow, (by Heaven ! I run 


into rhyme when I so much as think upon them,) 
that smile one day, rage the next, flatter and de- 
vour, delight and ruin us, and so forth— it is 
these that give the real soul of poetry. Did you 
never hear my Adieu to the Lass of Northmaven 
— that was poor Bet Stimbister, whom I call 
Mary for the sound's sake, as I call myself Hacon 
after my great ancestor Hacon Goldemund, or 
Haco with the golden mouth, who came to the 
island with Harold Harfager, and was his chief 
Scald ? — Well, but where was I — O ay — poor Bet 
Stimbister, she, and partly some debt, was the 
cause of my leaving the isles of Hialtland, (bet- 
ter so called than Shetland, or Zetland even,) 
and taking to the broad world. I have had a 
tramp of it since that time — I have battled my 
way through the world, Captain, as a man of 
mold may, that has a light head, a light purse, 
and a heart as light as them both — fought my 
way, and paid my way — that is, either with mo- 
ney or wit — have seen kings changed and de- 
posed, as you would turn a tenant out of a scat- 
hold — knew all the wits of the age, and especial- 
ly the glorious John Dryden — what man in the 


islands can say as much, barring lying — I had a 
pinch out of his own snuff-box — I will tell you 
how I came by such promotion." 

" But the song, Mr Halcro," said Captain 

" The song ?" answered Halcro, seizing the 
Captain by the button,— for he was too much 
accustomed to have his audience escape from him 
during recitation, not to put in practice all the 
usual means of prevention — " The song ? Why 
I gave a copy of it, with fifteen others, to the 
immortal John. You shall hear it — you shall 
hear them all, if you will but stand still a mo- 
ment ; and you too, my dear boy, Mordaunt 
Mertoun, I have scarce heard a word from your 
mouth these six months, and now you are run- 
ning away from me." So saying, he secured him 
with his other hand. 

u Nay, now he has got us both in tow," said 
the seaman ; " there is nothing for it but hear- 
ing him out, though he spins as tough a yarn as 
ever an old man-of-war's-man twisted on the 
watch at midnight." 

" Nay, now be silent, be silent, and let one of 


us speak at once," said the poet, imperatively ; 
while Cleveland and Mordaunt, looking at each 
other with a ludicrous expression of resignation 
to their fate, waited in submission for the well- 
known and inevitable tale. " I will tell you all 
about it," continued Halcro. " I was knocked 
about the world like other young fellows, doing 
this, that, and t'other for a livelihood ; for, thank 
God, I could turn my hand to any thing — but 
loving still the Muses as much as if the un- 
grateful jades had found me, like so many block- 
heads, in my own coach and six. However, 
I held out till my cousin, old Laurence Link- 
lutter, died, and left me the bit of an island 
yonder ; although, by the way, Cultmalindie 
was as near to him as I was ; but Lawrence 
loved wit, though he had little of his own. Well, 
he left me the wee bit island — it is as barren as 
Parnassus itself. What then — I have a penny 
to spend, a penny to keep my purse, a penny to 
give to the poor — ay, and a bed and a bottle for 
a friend, as you shall know, boys, if you will go 
back with me when this merriment is over. — But 
where was I in my story ?" 


" Near port, I hope," answered Cleveland ; 
but Halcro was too determined a narrator to be 
interrupted by the broadest hint. 

" O ay,"" he resumed, with the self-satisfied 
air of one who has recovered the thread of a 
story, " I was in my old lodgings in Russel- 
street, with old Timothy Thimblethwaite, the 
Master Fashioner, then the best known man 
about town. He made for all the wits, and for 
the dull boobies of fortune besides, and made 
the one pay for the other. He never denied a 
wit credit save in jest, or for the sake of getting 
a repartee ; and he was in correspondence with 
all that was worth knowing about town. He had 
letters from Crowne, and Tate, and Prior, and 
Tom Brown, and all the famous fellows of the 
time, with such pellets of wit, that there was no 
reading them without laughing ready to die, and 
all ending with craving a further term for pay- 
ment; 1 

" I should have thought the tailor would have 
found that jest rather serious," said Mordaunt. 

" Not a bit — not a bit — Tim Thimblethwaite 
(he was a Cumberland-man by birth,)" replied 


his eulogist, " had the soul of a prince — ay, and 
died with the fortune of one ; for woe betide the 
custard-gorged alderman that came under Tim's 
goose, after he had got one of these letters — 
egad, he was sure to pay the kain. Why, Thim- 
blethwaite was thought to be the original of little 
Tom Bibber, in glorious John's comedy of the 
Wild Gallant ; and I know that he has trusted, 
ay, and lent John money to boot out of his own 
pocket, at a time when all his fine court friends 
blew cold enough. He trusted me too, and I 
have been two months on the score at a time for 
my upper-room. To be sure, I was obliging in 
his way — not that I exactly could shape or sew, 
nor would that have been decorous for a gentle- 
man of good descent ; but I — eh, eh — I drew 
bills — summed up the books" ■ 

" Carried home the clothes of the wits and 
aldermen, and got lodging for your labour," in- 
terrupted Cleveland. 

" No, no— damn it, no," replied Halcro ; " no 
such thing— .you put me out in my story — where 
was I ?" 


" Nay, the devil help you to the latitude," 
said the Captain, extricating his button from the 
gripe of the unmerciful bard's finger and thumb, 
" for I have no time to make an observation. " 
So saying, he bolted from the room. 

" A silly ill-bred conceited fool,' 1 said Hal- 
cro, looking after him ; " with as little man- 
ners as wit in his empty coxcomb. I wonder 
what Magnus and these silly wenches can see in 
him — he tells such damnable long-winded stories, 
too, about his adventures and sea-fights— every 
second word a lie, I doubt not. Mordaunt, my 
dear boy, take example by that man — that is, 
take warning by him — never tell long stories 
about yourself. You are sometimes given to talk 
too much about your own exploits on craigs and 
skerries, and the like, which only breaks conver- 
sation, and prevents other folks from being heard. 
Now I see you are impatient to hear out what I 
was saying — Stop, where about was I F" 

" I fear we must put it off, Mr Halcro, until 
after dinner," said Mordaunt, who also meditated 
his escape, though desirous of effecting it with 
more delicacy towards his old acquaintance than 


Captain Cleveland had thought it necessary to 

" Nay, my dear boy," said Halcro, seeing him- 
self about to be utterly deserted ; " do not you 
leave me too — never take so bad an example as 
to set light by old acquaintance, Mordaunt. I 
have wandered many a weary step in my day ; but 
they were always lightened when I could get 
hold of the arm of an old friend like yourself." 

So saying, he quitted the youth's coat, and, 
sliding his hand gently under his arm, grappled 
him more effectually, to which Mordaunt sub- 
mitted, a little moved by the poet's observation 
upon the unkindness of old acquaintances, under 
which he himself was an immediate sufferer. But 
when Halcro renewed his formidable question, 
" Whereabouts was I ?" Mordaunt, preferring 
his poetry to his prose, reminded him of the song 
which he said he had written upon his first lea- 
ving Zetland, — a song to which, indeed, the in- 
quirer was no stranger, but which, as it must be 
new to the reader, we shall here insert as a fa- 
vourable specimen of the poetical powers of this 
tuneful descendant of Haco the Golden-mouthed; 


for, in the opinion of many tolerable judges, he 
held a respectable rank among the inditers of ma- 
drigals of the period, and was as well qualified 
to give immortality to his Nancies of the hills or 
dales, as many a gentle sonnetteer of wit and plea- 
sure about town. He was something of a musi- 
cian also, and on the present occasion seized upon 
a sort of lute, and, quitting his victim, prepared 
the instrument for an accompaniment, speaking 
all the while that he might lose no time. 

" I learned the lute," he said, " from the same 
man who taught honest Shadwell — plump Tom, 
as they used to call him — somewhat roughly 
treated by the glorious John, you remember — 
Mordaunt, you remember — 

' Methinks I see the new Arion sail, 

The lute still trembling underneath thy nail ; 

At thy well sharpen'd thumb, from shore to shore, 

The trebles squeak for fear, the basses roar/ 

Come, I am indifferently in tune now — what was 
it to be? — ay, I remember — nay, The Lass of 
Northmaven is the ditty — poor Bet Stimbister ! I 
have called her Mary in the verses. Betsy does 
well for an English song ; but Mary is more 


natural here." So saying, after a short prelude, 
he sung, with a tolerable voice and some taste, 
the following verses : 


u Farewell to Northmaven, 

Grey Hillswicke, farewell ! 
To the calms of thy haven, 

The storms on thy fell — 
To each breeze that can vary 

The mood of thy main, 
And to thee, bonny Mary ! 

We meet not again. 

" Farewell the wild ferry, 

Which Hacon could brave, 
When the peaks of the Skerry 

Were white in the wave. 
There's a maid may look over 

These wild waves in vain, 
For the skiff of her lover — 

He comes not again. 

" The vows thou hast broke, 
On the wild currents fling them ; 

On the quicksand and rock 
Let the mermaiden sing them. 


New sweetness they'll give her 

Bewildering strain ; 
But there's one who will never 

Believe them again. 

** O were there an island, 

Though ever so wild, 
Where woman could smile, and 

No man be beguiled — 
Too tempting a snare 

To poor mortals were given, 
And the hope would fix there, 

That should anchor on heaven." 

" I see you are softened, my young friend," 
said Halcro, when he had finished his song ; " so 
are most who hear that same ditty. Words and 
music both mine own ; and, without saying much 
of the wit of it, there is a sort of — eh— eh — sim- 
plicity and truth about it, which gets its way to 
most folks' heart. Even your father cannot re- 
sist it — and he has a heart as impenetrable to 
poetry and song as Apollo himself could draw an 
arrow against. But then he has had some ill luck 
in his time with the woman folks, as is plain from 
his owing them such a grudge — Ay, ay, there 


the charm lies — none of us but has felt the same 
sore in our day. But come, my dear boy, they 
are mustering in the hall, men and women both — 
plagues as they are, we should get on ill without 
them — but before we go, only mark the last 
turn — 

' And the hope would fix there ;' — 

that is, in the supposed island — a place which 
neither was nor will be — 

' That should anchor on heaven/ 

Now you see, my good young man, there are 
here none of your heathenish rants, which Ro- 
chester, Etheridge, and these wild fellows, used 
to string together. A parson might sing the 
song, and his clerk bear the burthen — but there 
is the confounded bell — we must go now — but 
never mind — well get into a quiet corner at night, 
and Til tell you all about it." 



Full in the midst the polish'd table shines, 
And the bright goblets, rich with generous wines ; 
Now each partakes the feast, the wine prepares, 
Portions the food, and each the portion shares ; 
Nor till the rage of thirst and hunger ceased, 
To the high host approached the sagacious guest. 


The hospitable profusion of Magnus Troifs 
board, the number of guests who feasted in the hall, 
the much greater number of retainers, attendants, 
humble friends, and domestics of every possible 
description, who revelled without, with the multi- 
tude of the still poorer, and less honoured assist- 
ants, who came from every hamlet or township 
within twenty miles round, to share the bounty 
of the munificent Udaller, were such as altoge- 
ther astonished TriptolemusYellowley, and made 
him internally doubt whether it would be pru- 
dent in him at this time, and amid the full glow 


of his hospitality, to propose to the host who 
presided over such a splendid banquet, a radical 
change in the whole customs and usages of his 

True, the sagacious Triptolemus felt conscious 
that he possessed in his own person wisdom far 
superior to that of all the assembled feasters, to 
say nothing of the landlord, against whose pru- 
dence the very extent of his hospitality formed, 
in Yellowley's opinion, sufficient evidence. But 
yet the Amphitryon with whom one dines holds, 
for the time at least, an influence over the minds 
of his most distinguished guests ; and if the din- 
ner be in good style, and the wines of the right 
quality, it is humbling to see that neither art nor 
wisdom, scarce external rank itself, can assume 
their natural and wonted superiority over the dis- 
tributor of these good things, until coffee has been 
brought in. Triptolemus felt the full weight of this 
temporary superiority, yet he was desirous to do 
something that might vindicate the vaunts he had 
made to his sister and his fellow-traveller, and he 
stole a look at them from time to time, to mark 
whether he was not sinking in their esteem from 


postponing his promised lecture upon the enor- 
mities of Zetland. 

But Mrs Barbara was busily engaged in noting 
and registering the waste incurred in such an en- 
tertainment as she had probably never before 
looked upon, and in admiring the host's indiffe- 
rence to, and the guests' absolute negligence of 
those rules of civility in which her youth had 
been brought up. The feasters desired to be 
helped from a dish which was unbroken, and 
might have figured at supper, with as much free- 
dom as if it had undergone the ravages of half- 
a-dozen guests, and no one seemed to care — the 
landlord himself least of all — whether those dishes 
only were consumed, which, from their nature, 
are incapable of re-appearance, or whether the 
assault was extended to the substantial rounds 
of beef, pasties, and so forth, which, by the rules 
of good housewifery, were destined to stand two 
attacks, and which therefore, according to Mrs 
Barbara's ideas of politeness, ought not to have 
been annihilated by the guests upon the first on- 
set, but spared, like Outis in the cave of Poly- 
vol. i. u 


phemus, to be devoured the last. Lost in the 
meditations to which these breaches of convivial 
discipline gave rise, and in the contemplation of 
an ideal larder of cold meat which she could have 
saved out of the wreck of roast, boiled, and baked, 
sufficient to have supplied her cupboard for at 
least a twelvemonth, Mrs Barbara cared very lit- 
tle whether or not her brother supported in its 
extent the character which he had calculated up- 
on assuming. 

Mordaunt Mertoun also was conversant with 
far other thoughts than those which regarded the 
proposed reformer of Zetland enormities. His 
seat was betwixt two blithe 'maidens of Thule, 
who, not taking scorn that he had upon other oc- 
casions given preference to the daughters of the 
Udaller, were glad of the chance which assigned 
to them the attentions of so distinguished a gal- 
lant, who, as being their squire at the feast, might 
in all probability become their partner in the 
subsequent dance. But, whilst rendering to his 
fair neighbours all the usual attentions which so- 
ciety required, Mordaunt kept up a covert, but 
accurate and close observation, upon his estran- 


ged friends, Minna and Brenda. The Udaller 
himself had a share of his attention ; but in him 
he could remark nothing, except the usual tone 
of hearty and somewhat boisterous hospitality 
with which he was accustomed to animate the 
banquet upon all such occasions of general fes- 
tivity. But in the differing mien of the two 
maidens there was much more room for painful 

Captain Cleveland sate betwixt the sisters, was 
sedulous in his attentions to both, and Mordaunt 
was so placed, that he could observe all, and hear 
a great deal, of what passed between them. But 
Cleveland's peculiar regard seemed devoted to 
the elder sister. Of this the younger was perhaps 
conscious, for more than once her eye glanced 
towards Mordaunt, and, as he thought, with 
something in it which resembled regret for the 
interruption of their intercourse, and a sad re- 
membrance of former and more friendly times ; 
while Minna was exclusively engrossed by the 
attentions of her neighbour ; and that it should 
be so, filled Mordaunt with surprise and resent- 


Minna, the serious, the prudent, the reserved, 
whose countenance and manners indicated so 
much elevation of character — Minna, the lover 
of solitude, and of those paths of knowledge in 
which men walk best without company — the ene- 
my of light mirth, the friend of musing melan- 
choly, and the frequenter of fountain-heads and 
pathless glens — she whose character seemed, in 
short, the very reverse of that which might 
be captivated by the bold, coarse, and daring 
gallantry of such a man as this Captain Cleve- 
land, gave, nevertheless, her eye and ear to him, 
as he sate beside her at table, with an interest 
and a graciousness of attention, which, to Mor- 
daunt, who well knew how to judge of her feel- 
ings by her manner, intimated a degree of the 
highest favour. He observed this, and his heart 
rose against the favourite by whom he had been 
thus superseded, as well as against Minna's in- 
discreet departure from her own character. 

" What is there about the man," he said with- 
in himself, " more than the bold and daring as- 
sumption of importance which is derived from 
success in petty enterprizes, and the exercise of 


petty despotism over a ship's crew ? — his very lan- 
guage is more professional than is used by the 
superior officers of the British navy ; and the wit 
which has excited so many smiles, seems to me 
such as Minna would not formerly have endured 
for an instant. Even Brenda seems less taken 
with his gallantry than Minna, whom it should 
have suited so little." 

Mordaunt was doubly mistaken in these his 
angry speculations. In the first place, with an 
eye which was, in some respects, that of a rival, he 
criticised far too severely the manners and beha- 
viour of Captain Cleveland. They were unpolish- 
ed, certainly ; which was of the less consequence 
in a country inhabited by so plain and simple a 
race as the ancient Zetlanders. On the other 
hand, there was an open, naval frankness in Cleve- 
land's manners — much natural shrewdness — some 
appropriate humour — an undoubting confidence 
in himself — and that enterprizing hardihood of 
disposition, which, without any other recommend- 
able quality, very often leads to success with the 
fair sex. But Mordaunt was farther mistaken, 
in supposing that Cleveland was likely to be dis- 


agreeable to Minna Troil, on account of the op- 
position of their characters in so many material 
particulars. Had his knowledge of the world 
been a little more extensive, he might have ob- 
served, that as unions are often formed betwixt 
couples differing in complexion and stature, they 
take place still more frequently betwixt persons 
totally differing in feelings, in taste, in pursuits, 
and in understanding ; and it would not be say- 
ing, perhaps, too much, to aver, that two-thirds 
of the marriages around us have been contracted 
betwixt persons, who, judging a priori, we should 
have thought had scarce any charms for each 

A moral and primary cause might be easily 
assigned for these anomalies, in the wise dispen- 
sations of Providence, that the general balance 
of wit, wisdom, and amiable qualities of all kinds, 
should be kept up through society at large. For, 
what a world were it, if the wise were to intermar- 
ry only with the wise, the learned with the learn- 
ed, the amiable with the amiable, nay, even the 
handsome with the handsome ? and, is it not evi- 
dent, that the degraded castes of the foolish, the 


ignorant, the brutal, and the deformed, (com- 
prehending, by the way, far the greater portion 
of mankind,) must, when condemned to exclusive 
intercourse with each other, become gradually as 
much brutalized in person and disposition as so 
many ouran-outangs ? When, therefore, we see 
the " gentle joined to the rude," we may lament 
the fate of the suffering individual, but we must 
not the less admire the mysterious disposition of 
that wise Providence which thus balances the 
moral good and evil of life ; — which secures for a 
family, unhappy in the dispositions of one parent, 
a share of better and sweeter blood, transmitted 
from the other, and preserves to the offspring the 
affectionate care and protection of at least one of 
those from whom it is naturally due. Without the 
frequent occurrence of such alliances and unions 
— missorted as they seem at first sight — the world 
could not be that for which Eternal Wisdom has 
designed it — a place of mixed good and evil — a 
place of trial at once, and of suffering, where 
even the worst ills are chequered with something 
that renders them tolerable to humble and patient 
minds, and where the best blessings carry with 


them a necessary alloy of embittering deprecia- 

When, indeed, we look a little closer on the 
causes of those unexpected and ill-suited attach- 
ments, we have occasion to acknowledge, that the 
means by which they are produced do not infer 
that complete departure from, or inconsistency 
with, the character of the parties, which we might 
expect when the result alone is contemplated. 
The wise purposes which Providence appears to 
have had in view, by permitting such intermix- 
ture of dispositions, tempers, and understandings, 
in the married state* are not accomplished by any 
mysterious impulse by which, in contradiction to 
the ordinary laws of nature, men or women are 
urged to an union with those whom the world 
see to be unsuitable to them. The freedom of 
will is permitted to us in the occurrences of or- 
dinary life, as in our moral conduct ; and in the 
former as well as the latter case, is often the 
means of misguiding those who possess it. Thus 
it usually happens, more especially to the enthu- 
siastic and imaginative, that, having formed a 
picture of admiration in their own mind, they too 


often deceive themselves by some faint resem- 
blance in some existing being, whom their fancy 
as speedily as gratuitously invests with all the at- 
tributes necessary to complete the beau ideal of 
mental perfection. No one, perhaps, even in the 
happiest marriage, with an object really beloved, 
ever found all the qualities he expected to possess ; 
but in far too many cases, he finds he has prac- 
tised a much higher degree of mental deception, 
and has erected his airy castle of felicity upon 
some rainbow, which owed its very existence on- 
ly to the peculiar state of the atmosphere. 

Thus Mordaunt, if better acquainted with life, 
and with the course of human things, would have 
been little surprised that such a man as Cleve- 
land, handsome, bold, and animated, — a man who 
had obviously lived in danger, and who spoke of 
it as sport, should have been invested, by a girl 
of Minna's fanciful character, with an extensive 
share of those qualities, which, in her active ima- 
gination, were held to fill up the accomplishments 
of a heroic character. The plain bluntness of 
his manner, if remote from courtesy, appeared, at 
least, as widely different from deceit ; and, un- 


fashioned as he seemed by forms, he had enough 
both of natural sense, and natural good-breeding, 
to support the delusion he had created, at least 
so far as externals were concerned. It is scarce 
necessary to add, that these observations apply 
exclusively to what are called love-matches ; for 
when either party fix their attachment upon the 
substantial comforts of a rental, or a jointure, 
they cannot be disappointed in the acquisition, 
although they may be cruelly so in their over- 
estimation of the happiness it was to afford, or in 
having too slightly anticipated the disadvantages 
with which it was to be attended. 

Having a certain partiality for the dark Beauty 
whom we have described, we have willingly de- 
dicated this digression, in order to account for a 
line of conduct which we allow to seem absolute- 
ly unnatural in such a narrative as the present, 
though the most common event in ordinary life ; 
namely, in Minna's appearing to have over-esti- 
mated the taste, talent, and ability of a hand- 
some young man, who was dedicating to her his 
whole time and attention, and whose homage 
rendered her the envy of almost all the other 


young women of that numerous party. Perhaps, 
if our fair readers will take the trouble to consult 
their own bosoms, they will be disposed to allow, 
that the distinguished good taste exhibited by 
any individual, who, when his attentions would 
be agreeable to a whole circle of rivals, selects 
one as their individual object, entitles him, on 
the footing of reciprocity, if on no other, to a 
large share of that one's favourable, and even par- 
tial esteem. At any rate, if the character shall, 
after all, be deemed inconsistent and unnatural, 
it concerns not us, who record the facts as we find 
them, and pretend no privilege for bringing closer 
to nature those incidents which may seem to di- 
verge from it ; or for reducing to consistence that 
most inconsistent of all created things — the heart 
of a beautiful and admired female. 

Necessity, which teaches all the liberal arts, 
can render us also adepts in dissimulation ; and 
Mordaunt, though a novice, failed not to profit 
in her school. It was manifest, that, in order to 
observe the demeanour of those on whom his at- 
tention was fixed, he must needs put constraint 
on his own, and appear, at least, so much engaged 


with the damsels betwixt whom he sate, that 
Minna and Brenda should suppose him indiffe- 
rent to what was passing around him. The ready 
cheerfulness of Maddie and Clara Groatsettars, 
who were esteemed considerable fortunes in the 
island, and were at this moment too happy in 
feeling themselves seated somewhat beyond the 
sphere of vigilance influenced by their aunt, the 
good old Lady Glourourum, met and requited the 
attempts which Mordaunt made to be lively and 
entertaining; and they were soon engaged in a gay 
conversation, to which* as usual on such occa- 
sions, the gentleman contributed wit, or what 
passes for such, and the ladies their prompt 
laughter and liberal applause. But, amidst this 
seeming mirth, Mordaunt failed not, from time 
to time, as covertly as he might, to observe the 
conduct of the two daughters of Magnus ; and 
still it appeared as if the elder, wrapt up in the 
conversation of Cleveland, did not cast away a 
thought on the rest of the company ; and as if 
Brenda, more openly as she conceived his atten- 
tion withdrawn from her, looked with an expression 
both anxious and melancholy towards the groupe 


of which he himself formed a part. He was much 
moved by the diffidence, as well as the trouble, 
which her looks seemed to convey, and tacitly 
formed the resolution of seeking a more full ex- 
planation with her in the course of the evening. 
Noma, he remembered, had stated that these two 
amiable young women were in danger, the na- 
ture of which she left unexplained, but which he 
suspected to arise out of their mistaking the cha- 
racter of this daring and all-engrossing stranger ; 
and he secretly resolved, that, if possible, he 
would be the means of detecting Cleveland, and 
of saving his early friends. 

As he revolved these thoughts, his attention to 
the Miss Groatsettars gradually diminished, and 
perhaps he might altogether have forgotten the ne- 
cessity of his appearing an uninterested spectator 
of what was passing, had not the signal been given 
for the ladies retiring from table. Minna, with a 
native grace, and somewhat of stateliness in her 
manner, bent her head to the company in general, 
with a kinder and more particular expression as 
her eye reached Cleveland. Brenda, with the blush 


which attended her slightest personal exertion 
when exposed to the eyes of others, hurried 
through the same departing salutation with an 
embarrassment which almost amounted to awk- 
wardness, but which her youth and timidity ren- 
dered at once natural and interesting. Again 
Mordaunt thought that her eye distinguished 
him amidst the numerous company. For the 
first time he ventured to encounter and to return 
the glance; and the consciousness that he had 
done so, doubled the glow of Brenda's counte- 
nance, while something resembling displeasure 
was blended with her emotion. 

When the ladies had retired, the men betook 
themselves to the deep and serious drinking, 
which, according to the fashion of the times, 
preceded the evening exercise of the dance. Old 
Magnus himself, by precept and example, ex- 
horted them " to make the best use of their time, 
since the ladies would soon summon them to 
shake their feet. 1 " At the same time giving the 
signal to a grey-headed domestic, who stood be- 
hind him in the dress of a Dantzic skipper, and 


who added to many other occupations that of but- 
ler, " Eric Scambester," he said, " has the good 
ship the Jolly Mariner of Canton, got her cargo 
on board ?" 

" Choke-full loaded, 1 ' answered the Ganymede 
of Burgh Westra, " with good Nantz, Jamaica 
sugar, Portugal lemons, not to mention nutmeg 
and toast and water, taken in from the Shellicoat 

Loud and long laughed the guests at this sta- 
ted and regular jest betwixt the Udaller and his 
butler, which always served as a preface to the 
introduction of a punch-bowl of uncommon size, 
the gift of the captain of one of the Honourable 
East India Company's vessels, which, bound from 
China homeward, had been driven north about by 
stress of weather into Lerwick-bay, and had there 
contrived to get rid of part of the cargo, without 
very scrupulously reckoning for the King's du- 

Magnus Troil, having been a large custom- 
er, besides otherwise obliging Captain Coolie, 
had been remunerated, on the departure of the 


ship, with this splendid vehicle of conviviality, 
at the very sight of which, as old Eric Scarabes- 
ter bent under its weight, a murmur of applause 
ran through the company. 

Those nearest this capacious Mediterranean of 
punch, were accommodated by the Udaller with 
their portions, dispensed in huge rummer glasses 
by his own hospitable hand, whilst they who sat 
at a greater distance replenished their cups by 
means of a rich silver flagon, facetiously called 
the Pinnace ; which, filled occasionally at the 
bowl, served to dispense its liquid treasures to 
the more remote parts of the table, and occasion- 
ed many facetious jests on its frequent voyages. 
The commerce of the Zetlanders with foreign 
vessels, and homeward bound West Indiamen, 
had early served to introduce among them the 
general use of the generous beverage, with which 
the Jolly Mariner of Canton was loaded ; nor was 
there a man in the Archipelago of Thule more 
skilled in combining its rich ingredients, than old 
Eric Scambcster, who indeed was known far and 
wide through the isles by the name of the Punch- 



maker, after the fashion of the ancient Norwe- 
gians, who conferred on Rollo the Walker, and 
other heroes of their strain, epithets expressive 
of the feats of strength or dexterity in which 
they excelled all other men. 

The good liquor was not slow in performing 
its office of exhilaration, and, as the revel ad- 
vanced, some ancient Norse drinking songs were 
sung with great effect by the guests, tending to 
shew, that if from want of exercise the martial 
virtues of their ancestors had decayed among 
the Zetlanders, they could still actively and in- 
tensely enjoy so much of the pleasures of Val- 
halla as consisted in quaffing the oceans of mead 
and brown ale, which were promised by Odin to 
those who should share his Scandinavian para- 
dise. At length, excited by the cup and song, 
the diffident grew bold, and the modest loqua- 
cious — all became desirous of talking, and none 
were willing to listen — each man mounted his 
own special hobby-horse, and began eagerly to 
call on his neighbours to witness his agility. 
Amongst others, the little bard, who had now 
got next to our friend Mordaunt Mertoun, evin- 
vol. i. x 


ced a positive determination to commence and 
conclude, in all its longitude and latitude, the 
story of his introduction to glorious John Dry- 
den ; and Triptolemus Yellowley, as his spirits 
arose, shaking off a feeling of involuntary awe, 
with which he was impressed by the opulence indi- 
cated in all he saw around him, as well as by the 
respect paid to Magnus Troil by the assembled 
guests, began to broach, to the astonished and 
somewhat offended Udaller, some of those pro- 
jects for ameliorating the islands, which he had 
boasted of to his fellow-travellers upon their 
journey of the morning. 

But the innovations which he suggested, and 
the reception which they met with at the hand of 
Magnus Troil, must be told in the next Chapter. 


Printed by James Ballantyne & Co.